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THE following Letters contain the results of obser- 
vation daring a year's residence in the island of Cuba. 
It is by inspection only that the real nature and pro- 
perties of things can be ascertained, the notabilia of 
Cuba more particularly so, there not being any works 
that treat of those subjects. Since the affairs of this 
island have become of sufficient importance to be 
enquired into, darkness and difficulties have attended 
research, and it is much easier to give an account of 
the state of Cuba for the first century of its coloniza- 
tion than to detail it during the last. But it is (to the 
purposes of useful knowledge) of little consequence 
to narrate the history of Cuba during the three cen- 
turies that elapsed after that event, when the island, 
though known, was nearly unserviceable to Europe. 
It is sufficient to learn the causes of that nugatory 
state and the tardiness of advance exhibited by an 
island which is by far the finest in the western Archi- 
pelago. The philosopher and the politician when 
they are informed, that a country has been labouring 
under the desiccating influence of monopoly and re- 
striction for nearly three centuries, will affirm that it 
must necessarily, be imperfectly cultivated, thinly 
peopled,, and slenderly provided with capitalr 


Tt is from the year 177B (when one end of the 
ohain which girt the island was loosened and com- 
merce allowed to go the length of its links) that the 
history of Cuba essentially begins : the narrative of 
its infancy can only interest its natural relaliyes. 
Since the above mentioned year the germs of pros- 
perity, with which it abounds, have begun to vegetate, 
but dtiring the last eleven years the harvest has been 
ripening. Since that period the principal ports of the 
island have enjoyed a free commerce, and the effects 
of this the following details will exemplify. 

The paucity of materials from which regular state- 
ments can be. made and the mode of acquiring infor- 
mation in the dearth of documents, almost precladed 
systematic arrangement, but connection has been 
attempted by digesting the letters into a series. 

No apology is offered for giving these details to the 
public. By the publication of local enquiries the 
world becomes generally acquainted, and the more 
intimate mankind is, the belter. These are letters 
of introduction by which the Cubanas will be made 
known to those Englishmen who choose it. I have 
described them as I saw them. Chacun a ses lunettes 
— ^mine are English, 

Havana^ October^ 1820. 



IntroductioD. Coast and Country of Cuba. West India Society. 
Population of Cuba ; its component parts ; stationary nature ; 
chu'acter ^ grades of rank ; nobility ; employis ; merchants ; 
clerks ; shopkeepers j monthro's ; people of colour. Amount 
of white population ; amount of coloured population — 
Page 1 


Slavery; habitual effects of its usa^e. Coloured population; 
preserve their African character ; their nationality ; debased 
condition^ Efforts of England in the cause of abolition. 
Treaties with Spain, Portugal, Netherlands. Mixed Commis- 
sions. Summary of the Spanish Slave Trade. Free people of 
colour; their character; number; to what attributable. 
S^/ave#/ domestics; field labourers ; difference of their con- 
ditions. Spanish Slave Code; its mildness. — Page 19. 

LEfTTER in. 

Re-establishment of the Constitution — detail of its consequences. 
Situation; territorial division and government of the island. 
Administration of Justice; number of Counsel, or Ahogado^s. 
Junta Provincial, Delegation to the Cortes. The City of 
Havana — described. Yellow Fever; some of the causes of 
its prevalence. Rents of houses; construction of them. 
Shops Public buildings. Churches and Convents. Ecclesi- 
astical population. University of San Geronimo. Schools 
and establishments for public instruction. Education and 
mental character of a Spaniai'd. Clergy; their constitutional 
bias. Archbishoprick of Cuba; churches in its diocese. 
Bishoprick of Havana ; churdies in its diocese. Revenues 
of the Bishop and Clergy. Division of the City. €rarrison 
and militia. Companid's Urband'e — their number and use. 
Frequency of assassination. — Page 47. 


Population of the Havana, Markets. Mode of living of the 
Havanerd's, Description of a Volante, Corrida de Torosy 
or Bull-fight. The Alameda. Females of the Havana. The 
Theaire. Havana play-bill. Critique on the Spanish drama. 
Gaming-Houses. Dances. Tertullid's. Catrit, — Page 71. 



Foundation of the Havana ; progress of its commerce ; opening 
of its port to a national trade ; other ports of Cuba so pri- 
vileged. Effects of this measure on the revenue of the 
island. Rapid advance of Matanzos. National monopoly 
destroyed, and free commerce conceded to the ports of 
Havana, Cuba, Trinidad and Matanzas. Effects of the same. 
Revenue ; aid supplied by it to other governments. Exports 
of the island ; imports. Ports of Baracoa and Mariel opened. 
Recent difficulties of the treasury of the island ; their causes. 
Resources ; disposition of the government to encrease them. 
New settlements on the island -, account of their progress and 
condition. Funds for promoting them and other institutions. 
Page 86. 


Country round the Havana desciibed. Roads; regulations re- 
specting them. Route inland. Regla. Guanabacoa. Petty 
farmei*s. Guanabo. Rios Giguia and Jaruco. Rio Blanco. 
Rio Santa Cruz. Town of Gibacoa. Woods of Cuba; re- 
gulations respecting them. Duty on foreign timber. Copper 
mines. Santa Maria del Rosario. San Juan de Jaruco. Los 
Guines. Cultivation of rice. Alligators. Country west of 
the Havana. Port of Mariel . Cession of the S. £. part of 
Cuba to France — By whom proposed. — Page 106. 


Climate of Cuba. Sickly season. Rains, Nortis^ or north 
winds. VTinter season. Table of the Weather and thermo- 
metricai i*ange during twelve months. Produce of the 
climate. Black cattle. Horses. Venomous creatures : 
Snakes ; aranas peludas ; scorpions ; mosquitoes. Birds. 
CocuyOy or fire-fly, Cuba blood-hound. Review of the 
character of the people and resources of the island. The 
abolition of the slave trade shown to be favourable to the real 
and permanent interests of the island. Conclusion^— Po^e 




\ Guanabacoa. 

Corral falso. 

Pnente blaiica« 
. Craz de Santaf^. 

Posada de Vaguraiabo. 

Ingenio de Pedroso. 
i Gnanabo. 

: Ingeaio Penal alias de Santa Cruz 
' Ditto San Francisco de Gnant- 
{ anilla 
, Potrero de Giguiabo. 

> Ingenio de Giguiabo. 

> Ditto de Jauregui 

, Ditto Bioblanco de Penalver. 
\ Caffetal de Conde de Lorto. 
; JNeUo de Rio bianco. 
/Partido de Santa Cruz. 

• Ingenio de Chavarrias. 
. Ditto de Oyiedo. 

. Ditto de Romero. 
,. Pueblo de Gibacoa. 

• Partido de Gibacoa. 

. Villa de Santa Maria de Rosario. 

!. Ingenio de Alvero. 

I. Ditto de S. Jos^ de Calvo. 

L. Potrero de la Saranilla de Casa 

f. Ingenio La Concordia de OTarrill 
\, Pueblo de Taparte. 
h Sierra de la Escalera. 
K La Lorn a de Cansavacas. 
' ^'^^-vIq de S. Juan de Jaruco. 
le la Diferencia. 

33. Iglesiade San Antonio de Paeblo 


34. Ditto de San Pablo de Caravallo. 

35. S. Carlos de Matanzas. 

36. Ingenio de San Rafasl de Lanza 

37. Ditto de Prado A mens. 


«jj >Ca£retales 

40. Ingenio de D^- Felicia de Her- 


41. Caffetal. 

42. Igenio Tivitibo de Montalvo *| 

43. Da Trinidad de Penalver 

44. S. Miguel de Urnarte. 

45. 8^* Ana. de Risel. 

46. Megana de Urnarte. 

47. La Soledad de Aroztegui. 

48. De Garro 

49. Galafate de Echegayen 
50 La Soledad de Jauregui 

51. La Guicanama de Molegon. '^ 

52. S. Miguel del Padron o'PotosL 

53. FortCox^mar. 

[Here the English landed in 1763, mavdbii 
by Guanabacoa to invef t Fert Moro.' 

64. Fort Moro. 

55. Fort Punta. 

56. La Cabana. [A battery of ' 

57. El Principe. 

58. Tbe Alameda and La Salad. 

.'•h ■■•". •' 




Road s 

from the 



Matamzas *' 




Introduction. Coast and Country of Cuba. West India Society. 
Population of Culm ; its component parts ; stationary nature ; 
character; grades of rank ; nobility; emploffiti merchants; 
clerks; shopkeepers;. moti/^o*«/ people of colour. Amount 
of white population; amount of cc^foured population. 

MY DEAR L * * * * 

You want a picture of this part of the new 
tsx>rldy and from me, who, I fear, will prove as 
indifferent a painter as the old could furnish. 
I am inclined, however, to try my Indian ink on 
the subject, for it is^ in truth, a fine one — so 
many striking combinations, stupendous objects 
and brilliant hues, that a young artist would be 
completely at home, might draw boldly find colour 


Insular America has not been much rummaged 
by professional travellers. The yellow demon of 
fever, with huge red eyes, glares so terrifically at 
them, that they drop their portfolios in affright. 
Besides, this is not a climate where a traveller in 
the writing line can use his seven-league-boots, 
and, consequently, cannot whisk out quartos with 
sufficiently profitable rapidity. As a resident, 
therefore, I possess advantages which I shall 
avail myself of in giving you some account of this 
island, the finest in the Western Archipelago. 

Nature has robed this portion of the globe 
with a magnificence and luxuriance far above 
what our northern regions can boast of. She has 
bestowed ^^ a coat of many colours" upon this 
younger world, and plumed it out in all the 
gaudiness of favored infancy. Perpetual verdure, 
majestic growth and brilliant colouring, distin- 
guish the vegetable kingdom here — a kingdom 
indeed, full of grandeur, luxury and stateliness, 
at the head of which stands the palma realy or 
roj/cd palm* (whose branches have become the 
insignia of glory) towering above a long train of 
noble trees, at whose feet lie thousands of plants 
drest in the gaudy " livery of the sun." The 

* Our romantic countrymen at Jamaica call it the *^ mountain 
•ahhage ^ In favourable aituations it rises nearly 200 feet. 


sober'^ truth, in plain language is, that the first 
sight of West India scenery is extremely striking, 
as much from the grand scale of its creation as 
from its perfect novelty to an European eye« 
The coasts of the islands are generally low, rising 
a short distance from the shore into eminences 
covered with palm, coco, tamarind, or orange 
trees^ I do not know a more elegant tree than 
the palma real. Its trunk rises to a prodigious 
heighth, grey, polished, and tapering, having at 
the top a tuft of foliage like a plume of ostrich 
feathers. The coco is very similar, except that 
it is less stately and has its foliage more spread 
and depressed. The tamarind is like the elm in 
appearance, and in the season of its fruiting, is 
covered with small brown pods shaped liked 
pears. Of the orange I need scarce speak, except 
to desire your imagination to figure the sickly 
shoot in a hot-house flower-pot rising into height 
and spreading its dark but fresh looking verdure 
around the golden fruit with which it is thickly 
studded. These are the most common trees to 
be found here, and which, with the popq^a and 
aloe (the one with huge upright leaves like drawn 
sabres, the other with broad foliage like shields) 
are ranked round the patriarchal families of naked 
children, pigs, dogs, mules^ c^ts ^nd poultry, 

A S 


which ffWarm in the low white huts, covered with 
thatch that are sprinkled over the hills. 

On approaching the shore of Cuba from the 
north, distance gives a clustered effect to the trees, 
which, in reality, they do not possess. The 
country round the Havana is rather bare of them, 
as might be supposed from its soil being more 
valuably employed. But the sugar ingenios 
(plantations) which formerly surrounded the 
city, have now disappeared : the soil has beea 
exhausted, and instead of laboring at its renova- 
tion, the planters have gradually receded into 
the interior, successively occupying new lands, 
under which class more than half the island may 
be comprised. This gives rather a forsaken air 
to the country. Here and there is seen a solitary 
hut and a patch of maize or plantain ground ; the 
palm lord's it over the rest of the scene in lonely 
grandeur. In all parts of the island this half cul- 
tivation is observable. That family intercourse 
of nature with her children, which is so peculiarly 
interesting in the well- worked fields of England 
is wanting here. Nature produces so bountifully 
and spontaneously most of the necessaries of life, 
that man grows indolent. In our northern clime, 
if nature is less able to act in the service of man, 
she has more aid from him in proportion to her 


weakness and decrepitude. She shares also in 
the produce of treasure. We ** give her of tlie 
firuit of her hands — her own works praise her." 
Palaces, or what are fiur better, fiurm buildings and 
abodes of utility and comfort, are raised on the 
soil, whose harvests have afforded the riches they 
evidence — at once altars and testimonies to the 
beneficence of nature. Man lives as with a parent 
who has done her utmost to serve him, and requites 
her efforts by his care : while here he stalks forth 
to forage the harvest, drags the spoils of nature 
into his pestiferous den, and leaves her to recover 
herself as she can. 

Though I have scarcely commenced my account 
of the Island, I have given you the character of its 
vegetation and its people, the one possedBed of 
surprising energy, the other greatly wanting it. 
Perhaps before I begin detailing things^ it would 
be better to take a review oi those that use them. 
I do not propose in my details to stand much on 
^^ the order of my going,*' but it is the course of 
natural history first to describe the animal, then 
its den, prey, &c. — I will do the same. 

In the description of all countries an account 
of the natives forms a principal subject of interest, 
but there is a distinctive singularity in the islands 
of the new world, called the West Indies^ that 
obliges their historian to be concise on that head. 


and to despatch such portion of his history in 
these few but comprehensive words — the natives 
are extinct. Out of an indigenous population con- 
sisting of above SjOOO^OOO, who were spread over 
these islands, not one remains.* The causes of 
this catastrophe are too well and too generally 
known^ to allow of repetition : there is nothing of 
Bovelty to throw into the detail, except it be an 
expression of horror at the ravages which the 
pestilential fever of avarice has made amongst so 
large a portion of our fellow creatures. Dwel- 
ling on the graves of this wretched race, are seen 
a people of most motley description, collected 
from nearly all the nations of the old world, 
drawn together by commercial enterprise, specu- 
lative cupidity, or the spirit of ad venture; amongst 
whom appears a numerous progeny of beings, 
shaped like men, but who are bought, sold, tram- 
pled on and despised as the veriest brutes I could 
name. This mass of beings is forcibly conjoined 
— ^their bond of union is a real chain. Jfear, say 
the metaphysicians, first formed society, and it is 
undoubted that such is the elemental principle of 
West India society/. Every house is a sort of 

* The Black Charaibs of Ratan are descendants of a carg^ 
of negroes shipwrecked on the island of St. Vincent's, and trans- 
ferred from thenee by capitulation in 179^ to the first named 


garrison filled with domestic conscripts serving 
"without pay and whom it is necessary to guard 
strictly. In the ingenious or plantations, regiments 
(to carry on the allusion) of these pressed metij 
are stationed with a proportion of two or three 
whites to a hundred blacks. The physical dis- 
proportion in such situations, (and, generally, in 
all the islands except Cuba) is endeavoured to be 
remedied by the depression of the moral faculties 
of the majority, and by severe enactments against 
their acquiring factitious force. The black man 
is not allowed to carry any sort of weapon. He 
dare not venture abroad after night-fall without 
having a lighted lanthorn in his hand, which 
marks him out to the white passenger in the same 
way that a beacon does a point of danger. On 
the other hand the white man seldom stirs a 
league from his dwelling without a sword by his 
side or pistols in his holster ; he breathes round 
himself a Iialo that magnifies his strength and 
hides his weakness ; and, to ^dd to his security, 
clusters himself with his fellows in large bodies 
notwithstanding the pestilential consequence of 
such union under a vertical sun. 

To be more particular, the component parts 
of West India population consist of Europeans ; 
of their legitimate descendants or white Creoles ; of 
their illegitimate descendants, or coloured Creoles ,- 


and, lastly, of negroes who are either Creoles or 
native Africans.* In the island oiCuba the white 
classes are a very different description of persons 
from those usually found in the islands of other 
nations. In those belonging to England, few pro- 
prietors reside. What profits may arise from their 
estates are expended in Europe, to which, even 
those who are resident, look as their retreat and 
place of enjoyment. In Cuba, on the contraiy, 
the Hacendad6*Sy or great proprietors, are, almost 
generally, natives of the island ; their ancestors 
were born there ; it is their coumtrt/^ in the full 
sense of the word, in which they live and in 
which they hope to die. The circumstance of 
there being twenty-nine resident nobility,t many 
of whom never saw Spain, will show how much 
more domiciliated the proprietary is here than in 
our islands. Amongst these and the higher order 
of planters, are to be found the descendants of 
the heroes of the sixteenth century, whose names 
are identified with the glory uf Spain. Fixed on 
the scene of their enterprize, these descendants 

* These last are called BozaUs. Cabatto hozal is a horse not 
broken in ! But the term attaches to the native AMcans long 
after they have lost their natural spirit. 

t Termed Titulos de CastiUa^ viz. 13 Marquesses and 16 
Counts. They pay 9103 dollars annually to the Government 
under a duty called "Zansof/* being a commutation for military 


bave peopled the solitude their fiithers made, and 
the effect of this stability has been to create a 
more numerous white population in this one island 
than in all the others of this Archipelago. The 
Uraalth of the island is in the hands of the Creoles; 
the Europeans being chiefly adventurers from the 
north of Spain, with a considerable number of 
French, and to this class of whites may be added, 
adventurers from the Canaries, from North 
America, and the Costa Firme, whose first exer- 
tions are commercial, and whose capitals, when 
attained, are usually expended in forming planta- 
tions. Stakes like these in a country are not easily 
plucked up and removed. The adventurer be- 
comes a resident, forms local alliances, and his 
children are cubano^s. This rooting of adventitious 
population is, however, as I am inclined to think, 
to be chiefly ascribed to the political state of the 
mother country, which, with a short interval, has 
preserved those feudal distinctions and institu- 
tions of the darker ages, which kept society banded 
in ranks that none could move from. The 
CataUmy the Gailego^ or other adventurer, when 
sent forth to seek his fortune on this shore, knew 
that, on attaining the object of his pursuit, his 
wealth would scarcely advance him a step in the 
scale of society at home. There was no competing 
with the lord of his village or the hidalgos of his 


province— >no emparking himseirout of some pri- 
vate jurisdiction as an independent ^squire. On 
the contrary, in his adopted country his v^ealth 
was every day encreasing and raising his import-^ 
ance. If he was ambitious, he could purchase 
some post of power and distinction in the munici- 
pal government of the colony ; at any rate he 
could vie with the greatest in the number of his 
slaves, and the luxury of his table, and sit down 
amply satisfied with his own importance. 

The nucleus of population once formed, a new 
country afforded a range and facility for its 
spreading. But though the island of Cuba has 
been settled above 300 years, it is yet a new 
country. Shut up during the greatest part of 
that period by the false policy of Spain, it 
labored under all the disadvantages of such seclu- 
sion, and now shows the effects, by the absence of 
many useful arts and appendages of refinement 
long familiar to Europe, as well as by the scanty 
portion of its soil that lies under cultivation. It 
is to this we must ascribe, perhaps, the vis inertias 
of the Cuband*s and the small product afforded by 
the agriculture of an island of such extent. The 
stimulus of competition was wanting, and where 
there was natural indolence it met with a foster- 
ing system. Thus it happens, that not half the 
island is cultivated, while half its white popula- 


iion are lounging about with ^igars in tteir 
mouths, and canes under their arms ;* though 
like Gil Blas^ master, Don Bernardo de CasteU 
bkmco^ they are " without lands or rents." Over- 
grown youths are seen, in social indolence, hang- 
ing, like ripe fruit, round the parent stem, which 
has scarce strength enough to nurture them. 

In the United States (which being near at 
hand, form a ready example> the great aim is 
employment. When every means of local employ 
is tried, the disappointed endeavourer strikes 
inland or coastways, and becomes one of the 
founders of a new mart or a new state. There 
is no cessation of effort till nature or accumu- 
lated misfortunes stop their industry. Here, on 
the contrary, no one is disposed to strike out. 
The stream of industry and trade struggles 
through the obstructions of habits and manners 
with difficulty, running through an aqueduct bed, 
raised by the enterprizing adventurers of North- 
ern Spain or America. It is sufficient to the 
Creole caballero that his country is rich in the 
germs of prosperity : it is a topic ^of pride and 
national exaltation that serves for the discussion 
of his heavy hours, and he calmly looks down on 
the enterprising 8tranger,rwho is fostering the 

* A gold or silver-headed cane is one of the exterior insignia 
of Spanbh gentility. 


bud and will gather the fruity as if he were a 
labourer in his service. This sluggish indiffer- 
ence is chiefly observable in that dass amongst 
whom you would least expect it, viz. those whose 
means are slender and need improving. As you 
ascend in society, the view is somewhat brighter. 
You find men of intelligence and education awake 
to the interests of their country, but they sit in 
their studies with their night-caps on. A pro- 
fusion otaoiso^Sy proclama^Sy n^anjfiest6*s^ and memo* 
rid*s are constantly appearing, upon subjects of 
public benefit, with multitudes of spirited instiga' 
tionsj which these gentlemen write in their arm" 
chairs to their neighbours. Now and then one 
rises up to exemplify a project : but the spirit of 
enterprize is not readily excited; a quiescent 
gaze is the only mark of interest, and the atten- 
tion is then turned to new dissertations on similar 

From what I have said, you may judge of the 
tone of society here amongst the whites. With 
the highest class, who do not stand in need of 
exertion, you may conceive that socud ease is 
entirely attended to ; that their time is spent in 
luxurious passiveness; sometimes broken in on 
by the love of place ; : sometimes agitated by the 
vacillations of gaming, and sometimes rendered 
piquant by gallanting with literature. Almost 


every one, indeed, versus here, and with the aid 
ofthe gods and goddesses, the roses and lilies of 
Europe, and an assortment of diamonds and gold, 
odes and sonnets are plentifully manufactured. 
Something on this subject I may possibly add at 
another time; suffice it now to say, that ^^ the 
ample page" of knowledge having been sadlj 
torn in squeezing through the gates ofthe Inqid* 
sitiotty only a few fragments are to be found here. 

There are many in the island possessed of 
very large and numerous estates, but colonial 
income is precarious, and the expences of living 
extremely high at the Havana, Few, I believe, 
notwithstanding the high saleable value of their 
estates can be called monied men. Amongst the 
merchants^ large fortunes have been realized, prin- 
cipally by the slaoe trade* But the commercial 
body, though of primary importance to the island, 
is only third in rank. The nobility and heads 
of government departments stand first. The 
employes (of whom I could show you a list of 
800) rank second. The merchants, with bags 
full of gold ounces^ march next, followed by a 
train of Gaditanian French, English, North 
American and German clerks. Canary Islanders, 
Biscay ners, Gallego^s, Catalonians and Amerip 
cans are the last in order ; but I must not figure 
them in procession, for they cannot leave their 


ground floors and nooks of shops, at the corner 
of the great houses, for fear the half-naked black 
slave that is piling up their goods should run off 
with them ; thej wisely remain at home, stretched 
full length on their counters, dozing between 

There is yet another dass o( whites whom I 
have to mention, the Monterd's or country people, 
holders of estancia's or small farms, a hardy race, 
habituated to exertions, and whose situation 
holds out every inducement to make them. Pos- 
sessed of a few caballerid*s of land,* on which is a 
hut built of flint stones and thatched with the 
leaves of the palma realy this colonial freeholder 
dwells in a sort of patriarchal solitude with his 
family, probably ten or twenty miles from a 
market. Here he raises maiz, breeds poultry and 
pigs, makes charcoal, prepares the thatch called 
guano and yagua from the leaves and upper rind 
of the jpa/m, grows vegetables, and gathers in their 
season the numerous fruits which nature has 
lavishly planted around him. All these various 
sources of profit are derived from little compara- 
tive labour to what our climate would demand : 
but this labour the Cubano himself performs, 
ploughs, sows, reaps, and conveys the produce to 

* A cabaUeria is equal to 32^ acres. 


the distant market, which, probably, is the most 
toilsome portion of his work. Sometimes he is 
aided by a slave, but very frequently is not able 
to attain this costly assistance, himself driving 
his oxen and cropping his field. Having attained 
temporary wealth, he now seems to consider 
himself entitled to the privileged indolence of 
his superiors. He lives careless of the future 
till his last real is about to disappear, and then 
sets to work again, making, probably, some 
article of furniture or stock, if his locality will 
allow of its sale, the means of providing what he 
may require for support beyond the produce of 
his platanar (plantain grove) or hen roost. 

In this class also, I would rank the journeymen 
carpenters, masons, &c. who are employed at the 
ingenious and country stations; but their condition 
and manners assimilate so nearly to those of the 
free people of colour, with whom they mingle in 
perfect fellowship, that I shall not particularize 
them. Indeed, there would seem to be a con- 
siderable oozing of black blood amongst these 
montero's ; something deeper than the tinge of 
sunshine on their skins indicates this. Many of 
them show an Indian cross, with long raven-black 
hair, and full dark eyes set in wrinkles. In others 
the short curl of hair and flat nose are veiy 


^^ questionable shapes." Others, on the contrary, 
(and these frequently the poorest and lowest) 
with bold arched faces half whiskered over, and 
keen full ejes staring under enormous slouched 
liats, seem the genuine progeny of the sturdy 
conquerorsof the island. For mj part, I view 
with pleasure this genealogical confusion, sur- 
mising a period when slavery, no longer supplied 
with African victims, shall be seen only as the 
badge of crime, and the population of this noble 
island, becoming in every sense a community^ no 
colour shall be considered disgraceful, but the 
blush that reddens the cheek of foiled tyranny 
and rentless avarice ! 

I have thus given you a rapid and slight 
sketch of the degrees and characteristic of the 
white population. According to the census of 
1817, it amounts to 338,796, of whom 139,656 
are males, and 109,140 females. A suppository 
calculation made in June 1820 by the Junta Pro- 
visional, states its amount at about 320,000, ac- 
counting for the very great difference by the 
influx of foreigners and Spaniards, and the con- 
cealment presumed in the authorized census of 
18]:7> from an idea that it was made for the pur- 
pose of taxation. I do not entirely agree to these 
reasons. Whatever influx of Europeans there 


;iiiight' have been,* it is lameniably certain thai 
25 per cent must be deducted for the loss from 
the diseases of the climate ; and, as to the effect 
.of concealment on the statements rendered under 
theeeristis, the government was then too arbi»- 
trary and the population too minutely and slen- 
derly spread to admit of evasion. The island 
being divided first into praoinces; then into 
pariido'sy each from one to two leiagues tiqtiare ; 
these into parfogma\ affords a fiill facility to 
inspection, and the scrupulous anxiety which a 
catholic population evinces not to omit the rites 
prescribed by the church, gives the baptisms, nbar- 
riages and deaths, the three chief statistical data^. 
with the most perfect fidelity. For these reasons 
I am inclined to thitik that the white population 
of Cuba cannot at this time (18S0) be stated 
higher than S50,000, even allowing Ibr the influx 
of emigration and natural increafite. The pro- 
gress of the last may be judged of from the cir« 
cumstance that, out of 77,8Si souls included in 
the city^ and municipal range of the Havana^ 
4015 infiidts were baptized in 1819, of whom 
1302 died, leaving a natural increase of 2713 on 

* In the last year (1819) the number of emig^nts that arrived 
from various countries to reside in the island, amounted to 1332 
men, 143 women, and 227 children— total 1702. Of these 201 
were from England and Ireland 5 384 from France, and 416 anUf 
from Spain /, 



the total of souls, or about 3f per cent. During 
the same period 3891 adults died, or 5 per cent, 
upon the total ; of these 1217 (chiefly European 
soldiers and sailors) died in hospitals of the. 
epidemic of the country besides many new comers 
of the same in private houses, leaving/ probably, 
about 2 or 2i per cent, mortality amongst the 
Creole adult^. Taking it thus I do not conceive 
my^statement is very erroneous. 

The colouredpopulation of the island (includ- 
ing mulatto and black, bond and free) amounted 
in 1817 to 3l4iyW2 being an excess over the 
whites of 75,406. Of this number 30,512 were 
free muldtloes and 28,373 free blacks. The re- 
maining 124,324 were slaves, consisting of 17,803 
mulattoes and 106,521 blacks. To this last num- 
ber must be added the importation of the three 
last years, being 25,976 in the year 1817;— about 
17,000 in 1818; and 14,668 in 1819, making a 
total of 181,968 slaves, and an excess of 143,050 
over the white population. 

The character and condition of this unfortunate 
race are subjects too important to be discussed in 
this postscript part, of my letter. I must endea- 
vour to do them justice : God knows they have 
no chance of gaining that but by the pens and 
exertions of Englishmen. 

I am^ &c. 



Slavery^ habitual effects of its usage. Coloured population; 
preserve their African character; their nationality; debased 
condition^ Efforts of England in the cause of aboiUian. 
Treaties with Spain, Portugal, Netherlands. Mixed Commis- 
sions. Summary of the Spanish Slave Trade. Free people 
of colour; their character; number; to what attributable* 
Slaves ; domestics ; field labourers ; difference of their con- 
ditions. Spanish Slave Code ; its mildness. 

The European farmer finds that the best 
manure is composed of the most offensive ma- 
terials; — so does the West India planter — ^he 
spreads his fields with orphans and captives^ and 
expects to find his harvests properous in propor- 
tion to the mass of misery he has heaped together. 
This assertion will show you that I have not yet 
suffered that ossification of the heart which a resi- 
dence in the West Indies too often occasions. 
Habit, they say, is a second nature : omt primari/ 
nature is bad enough, and when the two are con- 
joined, strange anomalies are produced. Thus you 

B 2 


may meet here with many honourable shroe dealers 
and liberal minded slave owners. I am not suffi- 
ciently acclimated in my feelings to rank under 
either character ; slaves I have none, my house- 
bold is composed partly of Europeans^ partly of 
free blacks, and notwithstanding the considerably 
higher expenoe of such arrangement, I find my- 
self much better off than my neighbours* 

The coloured population in all the islands form 
the majority, and though thrown out of the rainks 
of ^^ciety,^ iippress on, it a character more or less 
peculiar according to their number or their usuage. 
In none of the islands do they appear to have ac- 
quired an indigenous character ; the African soil, 
from which they were torn, stillclings to them, 
neither washed off in the font of baptism or the 
stream of knowledge. As to the last^ indeed, it 
purls round without touching them j they are 
eareinlly restricted from any acquirements incon^- 
sistept with their state of degradation, for the 
value of the ^/ove is raised in proportion as th« 
qualities of the man are, destroyed. In Europe 
they blind mill-horses to make them work better--^ 
they pluck the A^a J off the bean to make it bear 
more fully; these Imd oihev improvemefUs upon 
nature the West India planter has not forgotten. 

It is true that the negro. is taught the ritual of 
religion — (and religion here is a ritual only)-— 


Strongly and practicallj lessoned to despise tint 
world and look forward with bope to a better ; 
bvihisfiUdie is only laid aside for a rf%iie— (so 
far there is a change in his religion) — the barbarism 
of superstition remaiiM — the mist is not remoyed' 
from his inteUect — it is but agitated bj the in^ 
tmsion of new ideas and soon settles thiddj 
around them. That he diould {nresenre, even: 
after the lapse of generations, all the features of 
his former state, is not to be wondered at. JLit- 
tie is done to remoTe Ihem ; they are, as it wer^ 
but partially hid under his new habits. The. 
different nations to which the negroes bdonged 
in Africa are marked out in the colonies both by 
the master and the slaTe ; the former considering 
them variously characterized in the desired quali^ 
ties, and the latter joining together with a true 
national spirit in such union as their lords allows 
Each tribe or people has a king elected out ot 
their number, whom, if they cannot enthrone in 
Ashantee gloiy, yet they rag out with much'savage 
grandeur on the holidays in which they are per*! 
mitted to meet. At these courtly festivals (usually; 
held every Sunday and feast day) numbers of free: 
and ^islaved negroes assemble to do homage 
with a sort of grave merriment that one would 
doubt whether it was done in ridicule or meraoij 
oS their former condition. The gwg-^gang^-^ 


(christianized by the name ofdiablito), cows-homsj 
and every kind of inharmonious instrument, are 
florished on by a gasping band, assisted by clap- 
ping of hands, howling and the striking of every 
sounding material within reach, while the whole 
assemblage dance with maniac eagerness till their 
strength fails. The only civilized part of the en- 
tertainment is — drinking rum. 

But I know not to what purpose I should de- 
tail circumstances of this kind. So much has been 
published about AJricay of late, that every one 
in England is well acquainted with the manners 
aiid customs of its natives, and since the enslaved 
negroes have, in general, been left in the same 
mental state they were found in, you must imagine 
the race here are a wild, inconsiderate, ignorant, 
strong passioned people. If there is any thing 
worse to be added to their character — i^ as in- 
formation gleams on them, they become subtle, 
malicious, pilfering (and as some would add un- 
grateful, tliough, God knows, what they have to 
be grateful for) all this must be placed to the ac- 
count otskeoeri/. I will go farther — if the Wes- 
tern districts of Africa at this day are not advan- 
ced in civilization, but, on the contrary, im- 
mersed in that ^^ darkness visible" which is the 
worst of all conditions, where men adorn their 
savage institutions with the tinsel appendages of 


civilization without possessing any of its solid 
g^old — this also is owing to slavery. The intel- 
lectual illumination which God hath lighted in 
the nations of Europe^ that it might '^ shine be- 
fore men," has been placed ^' under a bushel, 
instead of giving ^' light unto all in the house, 
or family of mankind. But a better sera has 
commenced. The Africans are recognized as 
brethren, and Europe has commenced paying the 
arrears of their heritage so long due to them^ 

You are aware that England has entered into 
treaties with Spain, Portugal, and the Nether- 
lands for the abolition of the slave trade. The 
first named power (Spain) stipulated that from 
the S2nd November 1817, her subjects should be 
prohibited from carrying on the slave trade ;ior/A 
of the Equator, " upon any pretext or in any 
manner whatever :" that the said trade should 
be entireli/ abolished throughout her dominions on 
the 20th of May ^ 1820, and « that from and 
" after that period it shall not be lawful for any 
"of the subjects of the crown of Spain to pur- 
" chase slaves, or to carry on the slave trade on 
*^ any part of the coast of Africa, provided how- 
" ever, that a term of five months, from the said 
"date of the 30th of May, 1820, shall be 
" allowed for completing the voyages of vessels 



<^ which Bhall have cleared out lawfully previouslj 
^f to the said SOth M aj." As a compensation for 
the losseis consequent on the abolition of the 
trade, the sum of ^400,000 was paid by England 
fo Sfmin in February 1818, and his catholic 
Inajesty issued a decree, in terms of the treaty^ 
prohiUting the slave trade throughout his 

The treaty with Portugal, dated July^ 1817; 
specifies ito period for the total abolition of the 
tra,de by that power, but it is stipulated that it 
shall not be carried on north of the Equator ; and 
the 6nly traffic allowed to the south of the Equa?-. 
lor is limited to the territories, possessed by the 
crown of Portugal upon the coast of Africa. 

The treaty with the king of the Netherlands 
contains a sti|>ulation on the part of that sovereign 
to prohibit the slave trade from being prosecuted 
by his subjects after the 25th January, 1819, and 
he engages to enforce the prohibition ^^ in the.most 
'^ effectual manner, and especially by penal laws 
^' the most formal, and, in the event of the mea* 
*^ sures already taken by the British govemmeniy 
" and to be taken by that oftheNetherlandsy being 
^' found ineffectual or inefficient, the high cordract' 
" ing parties mutually engage to adopt such further 
^^ measures, by legal provision or otherwise, as may 



^fimmUmefo Hme appear best cakmlaUd to pre^ 
^^oeni all thdr respeciive tubjecU from taking any 
^ share whatever m this nefarious trajffic" 

Tins latter stipulation shows the foresight and 
eiiergy of our gorernment, in matw^ provision 
fin- tmrtnoos attempts at illicit traffic^ attempts^ 
which, certainty, will be made and which, it is to 
he feared, nothing but the nniTosality of effio^ 
bj all civilized nations can prevoiL :TheBritidi 
goremment have erected barricades wherever 
their inflnence extended, having first set an ex- 
ample of forbearance and disinterestedness which 
the magnitude of their colonial c<Micems rendered 
most forcible, both as an answer to the iniBinoa-» 
tion of sinister motives (which foreigners are too 
apt to ascribe to the exertions of England) but 
ako as an appeal, and incentive to the lingering 
philanthropy of the world. With Spain, Portn-^ 
gal, and the Netherlands, thej have formed 
treaties and provided for their execution by the 
establishment of commissions at the Havana^ Rio 
Janeiro^ Surinam^ and Sierra JLeone, consisting of 
two commissaiy judges, and two commissioners 
of arbitration, one of each being named by his 
Britannic mstjesty and the others 1^ the sove^ 
reigns of the respective territory. These cam* 
missions are empowered to decide, without 
appeal, on the legality of detentions of slave 


ships by the cruisers of the different powers and 
were established, by mutual concession, as checks 
upon that bias, which the interest of this colonies 
so strongly raises in their local governments, to 
connive at the continuance of a traffic which every 
one here tells you is absolutely essential to the 
existence of this and every West India island. 
Were you to seethe half-cultivated, half-peopled 
state of this important island, you would conceive 
how strongly urged the point of abolition must 
have been on a government by no means insensi-^ 
ble to itr value as a colony, and its merits on the 
score of fidelity ; and, let me add, were you fully 
acquainted with that punctilious pride which 
characterizes the Spaniards, you would judge no 
ordinary effort of quid pro quo negociation could 
have induced them to admit a foreign tribunal to 
exercise jurisdiction over and amongst them. 
The more plastic Frenchman has refused to be 
bound by treaty, or to allow of our taking a judi- 
cial station on his territory, and the government 
of the United states have done the same, solely 
on the ground that it would be incompatible with 
the feelings and spirit of an independent country. 
The effect of this want of general compact is very 
observable. It makes, what ought to be an im- 
mutable law of nations, as it is of nature, merely 
a local enactment subject to the versatility of 


policy and opinion. Thus the United States^ not- 
withstanding their high-sounding professions, have 
xmthin the present year^ sanctioned the existence 
and necessity of slaverj in the new state of 
Missouri. From whence do they conceive the 
required supply of enslaved labourers is to come^ 
which may be necessary for the cultivation of an 
immense tract as yet only faintly dotted with 
population ? Assuredly from that shore to which 
they profess to extend a philanthropic immunity. 
Thus also French slave traders are bringing car* 
goes to this island, though France professes to 
carry on the traffic solely for the supply of her 
own possessions. As long, therefore, as a single 
nation withholds her acquiescence to a total abo- 
lition it is, I conceive, perfectly impossible for 
England to prevent the slave trade from ravaging 
Africa and outraging humanity. Though she 
has taken the lead in the great cause, she 
cannot dictate. By an over exertion of her power 
and influence she would weaken their effects and 
raise odium where she was planting charity. It 
is from a judicious consideration of this conse- 
quence, and from a due regard to her political 
relations, that a difference exists in the stipula- 
tions of the treaties upon this subject. England 
laid her basis broadly down — ^' the abolition of 


the filavd trade." To this proposition Spain, in 
1814, (when flushed with the clearance of the 
Peninsula from invaders and the return of her 
monarch) answered-^that she would take it 
^' into eonsideration^ with the deliberation which 
'^'the state of her possessions in America de-^ 
^■mands,'' But, as something was due to a 
gorernment which had exerted itself so stre- 
nbously in her behalf, she engaged ^^ to prohibit 
^^ her subjects from carrying on the slave trade 
^^ for the purpose of supplying any islands or 
'^ possessions, excepting those appertaining to 
^ Spain ; and to prevent by effectual measures 
^^ and regulations, the protection of the Spanish 
^^ flag being given to foreigners who may en- 
<^gage in this traffic, whether subjects of his 
^^ Britannic majesty, or of any other state of 
** power." 

This was something to gain, but it was not all 
that England sought. It was the apex of the 
wedge, which she continued impelling, till the 
resisting mass was cloven. In 1817 the treaty 
was signed and ratified by which Spain renounced 
the slave trade, which was fostering her maritime 
commerce, enriching her treasury, and augment- 
ing the wealth and power of her firmest depend- 
encies. The critical state of the majority of her 


trftranmriiie dominidns, lier domeBtH) difficohies, 
and the necessity of maintaining her Europeaa 
alliances aided this result, - . - ] j 

The king of Portugal seated in his vast Ameri- 
can territories, whidi nature has made one of Jier 
ridiest treasuries, where the rock and the cultiva*- 
table^ soil are alike productive, . only required 
popidation to draw forth the wealth they are stered 
with. The Brazils had ceased to he an European 
dependence; its wantd, therefore, were not of a 
secondary, nature, and unhappily, the slaye thide 
had become one. Possessed also of coloniesion 
ihe 'African coast, it could itot be expected that 
she would at once nullify her independence, and 
calmly give up, without equivalent, her. power 
in Africa, and her expectations in AmeriaHi 
And what equivalent could England give for the 
resigti^ion of this -last, for the breaking' up i»f 
an empire; or what arguments, founded on 
social benevolence, could prevail against a sys- 
tem fraught, it is true, with moral evil, but pro. . 
ducing political good? These, one would 
tfainky roust be insuperable obstacles, but Eng- 
land has overcome them so far as to restrict the 
Portaguese stave trade at present, and to stipn^ 
late for its abolition at an early future. ■. . ) - . 

The Netherlands stood differently related 
both to America and to England. To the last 



she owes in pure gratuitj, ber colonial posses- 
sions, and lier political affinity is closer than that 
of anj other power. It is from this that the 
treaty respecting the abolition, between these 
two nations, bears the character rather of a 
private arrangement than a public compact, and 
provision for a series of preventive regulations 
is made, which effectually unites the two powers 
in continuous exertion. 

I wish to my soul that I could carry on this 
diplomatic summary, and name every nation in 
this truly holy alliance. But England is not idle, 
and one day the social compact will be perfected, 
and her statesmen receive the civic crowns of 
Africa. But till the period of this general 
accordance, I repeat, it is vain to expect that 
Africa will be civilized, or her people suffer less 
from mercenary outrage. If it were not that I 
should grate the feelings of the ardent abolition- 
ist, I would add, they will suffer more. 

The international regulations for the seizing 
and adjudging illicit slave traders will be service- 
able no doubt, but the amount of that service de- 
pends upon, as it were, the fortune of war i they 
may or may not be captured. In the event of the 
second supposition, the local laws meet them, and 
presuming them to be executed with a fidelity 
not to be swayed by private interests, or an 


opii^ion of their being adverse to those of the 
community, yet we well know, that, restrict as we 
will and as we can^ there is no legislative enact- 
ment^ however strongly guarded, but what is fre- 
quently evaded and dared. Within these few 
months two Portugueze brigs with 566 slaves on 
board entered, one, the small unfrequented port 
o( Batabanbj on the southern coast of this islanc^ 
the other the Havandy in violation of our treaty 
with her nation. At the same moment, perhaps, 
a Spanish trader might be visiting the Brazil 
coast in a similar way. They are punishable in 
their respective dominions, under the treaties be- 
tween England and Portugal, and England and 
Spain, if captured^ but they are not punishable 
by the national code of the countries they visited. 
Three French vessels have also, within the period 
aboye-mentioned, entered the port of Havana with 
slaves; — but they are not tangible^either way. 
So much for evasion; and as to darings no country 
in the world has coasts so well calculated for 
smuggling as the island of Cuba, nor do I believe 
there is any other traffic in the world that holds 
out such strong inducements to illicit endeavours 
as that in slaves. A short statement will show 
you the ground of my opinion. In the year pre- 
vious to the date of the treaty, viz. in 1816, 
17,733 negroes were imported into the Havana 

32 I.ETTEnS 

'fft6ixk AiUca. The valoe of goods, dollars, and 
stores caitied thither, and whieh returned in est^* 
change the ftet number of 17,738 slaves {for the 
^ndrtatity of the Spanish middle passage is usually 
verj great), amounted to 643,852 dollars. The 
cttstom house valuation was, 150 dollars per head^ 
or 2,659,950 dollars total, which, with the deduc* 
tion of duties and incidental expeiicc^ W6uld 
l^ave about 100 per cent. prolBt, but as the custom 
liouse valuation was under the real, the profit 
would approach nearer to 150 per cent. After 
ihe ratification of the treaty for the abolition, not 
only were the* importing duties nearly entirely 
taken ofi^, but the value of slaves in the island rose 
prodigiously, at the present time averaging 500 
dollars per head, and prime slaves 600 dollars* 
Oh the other hand as the value of Islaves iiDse, 
the articles usually required in trafficking for them 
on the African coast, fell, as Ihe anticipation of 
the demand soon ceasing, caused the holders to 
throw them plentifully on the market. Thus ne- 
groes were purchased^ probably, a third cheaper ^ 
in Africa, and sold three times higher in the 
Havana; so that if the same value of goods that 
was shipped from hence in 1816 (viz. 643>85S 
dollars) was carried to Africa, by vessels sailing 
from this port previous to the 30th May, 18^0, 
the return of slaves ought to be, in numbers 


Sd,644and ia. value above ll^OOO^OOO dollars!* 
Let it be recollected also, that after the legitimate 
traffic is terminated, the value of slaves will be 
annuallj rising, till it attains the maximumi 
which the planters' prolBt or love of speculation 
maj^ allow it to reach, and, consequently, that 
the .temptation to the illicit trader will be 
strengthening in proportion* In an island of such 
extent as this, with nearly 2,00p miles of coast, 
presenting inlets on all sides to adventurous navi- 
gation, and a tract of country lying thin and se- 
vered as to population, so that the hand of govern- 
.ment.canscarcely grasp it, we must expect that 
smuggling in slaves will be carried on to a great 
extent. Smuggling in slaves ! The very name 
gives rise to ideas of terrific cruelty and remorse- 
less cupidity ! 

. Wejll, but you exclaim, iow are we to prevent 
this ? -. We, my friend ! We cannot do every thing 
in the .world that requires spirited exertion, disr 
interested feeling and enlightened notions. fFe 
were the last to begin a slave trade and thej^r^^ 
to abolish it.* Wsy the possessors of the major 
part of the colonies — with a greater interest at 
stake than any other, than all other, nations — zt>e 

* From our gresit sacrifices as weU as exertiona Deinmofk will 
yidd IV thb station. 

34 IiETTfiRS 

Have set the example, completely ^tJboltkUeii tlie 
traffic, watcb with all the jealous)^ 6f hdiibtrr 
against eyery infringeiiii^iit amorigst buriePoes— 
have besought— h^ve 5o2/g*Af^ the C0)[^6u^^c6^ of 
other powere in the wbrTk l)f hu^^tiity, ind'cidif- 
tinve supporting agen^ in vatlou^ ^arts to'watbfa 
over and protect its j^rpgr^ss* W&at tnoire c^ii 
Ve do, consistent with the' ii/itie^ 
of other nations or the unassamitig propriety of 
oiir own ? The slave trade has been neatly SM) 
j^ears in action,,has been nationalized Q.tkd bnigedSi 
in Africa itself, and it is vain to expect that^ we 
should overthrow at once what has Ibeeti'so long 
systematized in two quarters of the globe: 

As fer as I am able t6 judge, I thiiik t^t^^ 
means hitherto taken, may, in a great degire^^ 
diminish the number of negroes 'brought froAi 
Africa, but will not abolish the trade,' and most 
probably, will cause a deeper inflictibn' of miseipr 
on those unfortunate beings thel objects of illicit 
traffic^, if at any period a breach Jbhbnld talife 
place in the pacific relations of Greai]^itai^,-wiili 
any of the powers, to whom she how delegates 
commissioners for abblishing the slave trade, thpe 
consequence will be the dissolution of the com* 
mission and the renewal of the traffic. Such an 
event is, liappily, not likely to occur, but the 
paswbilih/ of it gives a temporary character to the 


node of abolitioQ and iDVolve? the point too much 
with the vacillations of policy. Till (he prine^le 
of abolition is- written in the code of nations as it 
is in that of nature, we must expect humanity* to 
'be outraged. Stamp the 'slave-tradar with the 
name of piraie^ pursue him with deadly rigour-^ 
make him judicable in imjf part of the ciyili^^ed 
world; — endeavour, at the same time, throug|i 
.the medium of educated nativesy by colonizing the 
.dangerous and burthensome West India blacjc 
corps and by legitimate commerce, to gradually 
^humanize the coasts of Africa, and then, in the 
.course of years, 'we may wear down the slave trade 
and raise up the force of opinion against it on the 
very spot where its markets now stand. 

It is only of late years that the Spaniards, have 
been jcaniers in, the slave trade. Eleven years 
after the discovery of America, viz. io 1503, they 
^mmenced purchasing negroes from the Portu- 
^ueze; but, in 1542, the traffic WBa abolishedhY 
Charles 5th ( Isl of Spain) notzsnthstanding which, 
in 1569, there were twenty-two thousand negroes 
in the iisland of Santo DomingO only. To Om in- 
crease, England, (who commenced the trade in 
1563) was a principal contributor, and^ finally, 
Ijry tlie,iju^iento contract, after the peace of Utrecht, 
•dw became the «o/e> carrier for a time^ till in^ 1769 
tVe traffic was thrown open. 

c g 

96 LETT£RiS 

During the first ten subsequent jears (viz. from 
1789 to 1799) 41,500 negroes were imported into 
this island, or rather more than 4000 annually. 
During the next four years, 34,500 were imported, 
or about 8,600 annually. From that time to the 
year of the abolition treaty (1817), being* a period 
of 13 years, above 150,000 negroes were intro- 
duced, or more than 10,000 annually. In the 
years 1817, 1818, and 1819, there was a great 
increase of importation nearly 60,000 having been 
brought to the island during that period. 

Thus in the last thirty years more than 900,000 
negroes have been brought from Africa to this 
island, and it is no vague supposition to presume, 
that 50,000 more have perished in the transit.*-^ 
No comment is necessary. 

I have told you that there are 370,000 people 
of colour in the island. Of these the free mulat- 
toes and blacks rank first, more particularly in 
their own estimation. These beings (singular as 
it may seem to those ignorant of human nature) 

* Many lamentable instaiieea in pitx^of this calculation night 
be adduced. The Spanish law allows flve slaves for erery two 
tons, and though the number is fully completed on the coast of 
Africa^ the average of import is two slaves per ton! One vessel 
loaded, sailed, lost nearly the whole of her cargo, retnn^ to the 
coast and contrived from her spare stores to load a second tim«. 
She arrived at the HoMiMk with a proportion of only onB amd • 
haff 9lave$ per ton f 


look down on those they are sprung from, if it be 
possible, with more contempt than the whites do, 
while they regard the latter with an envy, almost 
too natural to be condemned. Though tinted 
with the die of slavery, they possess certain privi- 
leges, here cdXled freedom, but which have little 
analogy to the Europeon meaning of the word; 
they are unchained but the collar remains on their 
fiecks. They are subject to most of the restric- 
tions imposed on the slave, such as respect 
carrying weapons, being out after dark without a 
lanthorn, &c. and they are equally deprived of in- 
formation, their freedom by no means extending 
to their minds. Their condition is usually good, 
notwithstanding their extreme indolence. The 
high price of labour enables them to gain suffi- 
cient, by slight and discontinuous exertion^ to 
pass nearly a third of their time in sleep or 
gambling. A free man of colour, who is a toler- 
able artificer, will make from twelve reales {6s.9d.) 
to three dollars {I3s. 6d,) per day, and this he eama 
rather by a sort of hysterical efibrt, than by labour. 
He will work half this day, a third of next, aban- 
don bis work the day after, and return as he feels 
the necessity. Perhaps in the middle of the work 
to be completed, he will leave his employer for 
another situated nearer his gaming haunts; no 
dependence is to be placed on him*. 

98, I^TTERS 

Thoseof this class who are domestics usualljr 
receive sic redes (3s. 4|rf.) per day. If free from 
the vice of gaming they are generally honest, bat 
a restlessness under any sort of restraint seems to? 
characterize them. They consider themselves 
hired for some ^cific piece of service, as a caok^ 
as a calesera (or coachman), as a porter^ &c. ; be»> 
yond the precise line of their duty^ it is difficult 
to obtain their assistance, and they put their com* 
mentary on the contract of hiring. Two or threes 
days after you have engaged them, they will teil 
you that you require too many dishes on your 
table — want your volante (the carriage of the 
country) too often — or that you send too many 
messages. They quit you on the eve of a pairty^ 
a drive out, or sealing a letter. Notwithstanding' 
this, their service is preferaUe to ihiat afforded 
tfy the gloomy slave, who kdows he shall get 
nothing but harsh words and buflfets for what 
he does, and who has no interest in exettion otr 
prospect of its ending. 

There are many coloured people whose free- 
dom is the purchase of the extra earnings sdio wed 
them by law. These are the most valuable of 
their clasd and commonly continue in their course^ 
of industry as hawkers of mlirket goods, dnd 
petty dealers in to}>acco, &c. Those who re9td^ 
in the country differ in little from th6 4ow«r 


order of whites with whom they maintaiD a per- 
^ect^fellowship. Both d^scripiions are fi^equejotlj 
Q^ep wprkiDg. together at the same trade, and I, 
regret to say, still more frequently, gambling^ 
to^^ther. This vice and an immoderate loyiQ. 
pf dress are the bane of the. labouring class*. 
You would smile to see groups of black, females^ 
with siilk stockings, satten shoes,, muslin gowns,, 
French c^bawls, gol4 ear-rings and flowers in their, 
woollen- head-dress, gallanted by Uack beau;^ 
^ith white beaver hats, Ei^iglish coats and gold- 
headed canes, all smoking in concert like the^ 
superiors. These are your ' washerwomen and 
cobblers, festivalizing on a ^^ dias de dos cruces^^^ 
Oi: a church holiday. The next day you will 
t^aye theip at your door with some article of this 
f ^i^y, whjieh 4hey gre seeking a sale ibr, to pi^ 
Ibf (he day's subsistence ! 
: The distinction arii^ing -from holdiday array 
is all this class of peopi.e can aspire to, or .in 
which they can vie with the whites. The prin- 
ciple of depression, universally • acted on with 
v^pect to them, keeps them down as a body, and 
|iats. theip aside from the race of honourable 
emulation, excluding them from a course whiqh 
the indolent whites fire see^ merely walking over. 
It is -not tQ«l^e( wondered-ilty that the plant, whj^ 

fr#w rising, 8hdMW««(W0««kfl*. 


The number of free people of colour in this 
island is nearly equal to the total amount of that' 
class in all the islands together. This is attribut- 
able to the mildness of theSpanish slave code which- 
softens the rigour of their hard destiny, in a wajr 
very different from what would have been expected 
from a nation, whose colonial enterprises have 
caused such waste of life and extent of misery 
amongst the Indian hordes. The facilities afford- 
ed the slave will^ however, come more correctly 
in detail, under the summary which I shall now 
give you of his condition. 

The slaves of Cuba must be considered either 
as field labourers or domesticSy because in this 
more than any other island, the condition of 
these respective classes varies. Those employed 
in household duties will, of course,, be expected 
to possess advantages, and to have been selected 
for qualities, not enjoyed by the others, and 
frequently, either from the good nature or negli- 
gence of their masters, live in a state of ease and 
comparative happiness. Pride and luxury have 
accumulated numbers round themselves ; some, in 
the Havana, having no less ihAfk sixty household 
slaves, encumbering the ease they are meant to 
supply, and forming a grandeur which is more 
confusing than dazzling. There are, indeed, 
some wealthy proprietors, whom 1 gladly except^ 


that are surrounded by these hordes, less for. 
state than from a wish not to alienate those born 
under their roof, and bearing their name.* 

These domestics, born in hereditary service, 
are commonly the associates of their young 
masters during their juvenile years and, not un- 
commonly, the pets of their mistresses. They are 
seen sprawling and sporting at the feet of their 
owners with the young whites of the family, and 
are accustomed to the free range of the house 
with their associclte lordlings, thus acquiring 
habits of familiarity not easily got rid •f when 
the nature of their service is changed. Thiff 
occurs when their white fellows become masters 
and require their companions to be menials. 
They are, then, either suffered to serve with a 
kind of familiar air, which to a casual observer 
looks very like insolence, or otherwise, are 
repulsed and commanded harshly, a treatment 
which they feel keenly,*: and -are sure to testHy/ 
But, in whatever way they are treated by their 
mastery, the love of liberty* soon renders them, 
re^ftless. They see numbers of their colour enjoy 
freedom, and the laws sanction their attempt at 
attaining the same immunity. 

Every slave, under the Spanish' colonial la wy 
who tenders his master the sum he was bought 

* The slaves are baptised by tbe name of their first owner. 

4(i LBTT^BjS 

at, is entitled to enfiranchisement, fior can his. 
master ntfus€':it. It is equajlyr ppfnii.^ed }j^m to 
furch^!^ a portion of his freedom^ hy in$t£^lsBe<its^ 
as his ability allowsi beiqg. thea< said to be 
eoariado or cut^ and swi^h ar^ in consequence, en- 
titled to .It license to Hf^i, where and with whom 
^y please, paying to; their mastei: a reo/per 
4ay for every l^un^ed dollars reipaioiag of tli^ir 
talue b^ond the instalment they have paid. 
Many, who are not coartado are allowed by their 
eiWI^rs to labour where they please under simi-> 
Ifir conditions! by which meads, an indiu^tcious 
9ta,y0 mtay in a few years procure, silfficieat 'to 
fansom himself. The exceUeiice of such a re- 
gulation ilcis easy to^appreciate. The permission 
to purchase freedom by portions is both a wi^e 
«nd merciful policy. > It satisfies th^maater with^ 
a high interest, during the period the slaye is 
working r :out .his^ freedom, and- it imbues the; 
latter'with habits of dieerful^industty while h^ 
i% as it' wiBre, -knocking off bis chain link by link. 
Anothec regulation, in the s^rit of the former,, is- 
the aUowanoe to a slave, whoia discmitented with 
the treatment of his owner, to dennmd acorlaor 
license to be sold, or, in oth«r words, to change, 
bis Service. Iii this case, however, the owiner 
m^y pkice what value he pleases on his slave. 
It sounds very singularly to a stranger in the 


West Indies to be addressed with the words — 
^ Praj/j Sfr, will you buy me «" For mypart I 
felt an awkward sensation when first addressed 
thusbj Si feUaw^creaUirej but the fireqoeiicy of 
these qaestions has now become agreeable to me^> 
beetiiiso liriew it as arising from my being to 
Bn^hhrnm^ a native of that ■ coontiy whosfd 
exert'ions ki the cause of the' African race will) I 
trust, 'be veiwrated tj the civilized deseemdants of 
t^tMie) ^Kdm^thej are directed to save firom tber 
dodM^ bondage t>f slavery and barbarism. 

Added to the ameliorating regulations of 
slaveiy, which I have just mentioned, are those 
which eitj^yrce the natural obligation of the ownev 
of a slave to support him and clothe him decently; 
Further than these, what can kms do i They 
cannot convert tyranny into wildness, or tear 6ff 
the fibres of prejudice, whidi are woven round 
the heart of a slave owner. They recognize ma 
a principle^ that men, equal in the sight of God,- 
are tmeqnal in the sight of each other, and have 
stamped this inequality by a deeper brand than 
nature can sanction, or humanity should allow, 
vaisijofgns despotism where nature only intended 
aiederal dependance, and investing civilisation 
witb" rights which its principles cannot accord 
with. 'In the 'societies of Europe, though the 
degree or rank is fixed, erery individual >li8a it in 
hff power by merit or good fintuae to change the 


one he waB born in ; but here, in the insular 
coantries of America, the majority of the popu- 
lation are stamped with letting degradation, 
forcibly kept tlown from elevating themselves, 
and thus acquire a stoop of character which their 
white lordfr firmly believe is the genuine impress 
of nature. Thus, common minds, finding them^ 
selves bom masters of beings who were bom slaves^ 
think, (I use the word in its popular sense) that 
nature made them both so, and sway their scep- 
tres with cool despotism de jure dhino. ^' Oh ! 
nature ! Oh 1 thou gviddess !" how would these, 
worse than Pagans, personiQr thee ? As a stout, 
though meagre, sallow-faced, sunk-eyed, huge 
whiskered African trader ! 

The laws I have detailed apply to both classes 
of slaves, though circumstances make their bene- 
fits less available to the Jield than the domestic 
D^roes. In one respect they are all equal — in 
the state of utter ignorance they are kept in. ' No 
where is /the axiom better understood, that,* 
knowledge is power. 

The Jkld negroes are either bozales^ or slaves 
sent thither, and retained there, who are either 
too dull to be used as artificers and domestics, or. 
whose faults in these latter capacities are punish- 
ed by this species of banishment. To be sent 
<^ al monte'\ . is the severest punishment a domes* 
tic negro can be threatened with. This is suffi • 


cient to show the distinction between their con- 
ditions. ! > 

The parts of the island where the ingenio^ or 
sugar plantations, and the cqffetales, or coffee 
estates, lie, are remote from the Havana and 
towns where the proprietors reside. . They are 
consequentlj^ left to the management of overseers, 
men, in all the islands, usually of indifferent cha- 
racters and desperate fortunes, or if they are not, 
are, at least, in that rank of life where prejudice 
is less likely to be checked by education, oir. feeU 
ing, to have attained any degree of refinement. 
The slaves committed to their charge . depend 
entirely on temper, and are too remote from the 
society of their more favored fellows to learn the 
rights the laws have given them. From their lo- 
cality they are also debarred from the advantages 
of extra labour, or a charge of service ; they are 
penned up amidst the mountains, and the only 
remedy for suffering is, either patience or jcevolt. 
Not a year passes without instances of the.l^tter. 
Last winter a body of 700 took to the hills, and it 
was two months before the military sent against 
them could compel them to surrender. It is vain 
to talk of men being well treated when they ri^ 
their lives to ameliorate their condition. 

In the Hcpoana^ besides other sources of foi;- 
tune, there is a lottery, .ds^wn monthly, wber^ 
for five reales (or Sd. 9|d.) a share may be 

46 LETTfiRg: 


obtained. This procures freildom' for btny^'bupt 
is still more serviceable as a recruiting" depot 
jbr the plantartiom. Fiee rea^.^re first to be 
t>bbikied by the candidate for fiirtilne. He, «t 
last obtains theih, tries his fortune^/and^ fails of 
miccess. Theft and gaming :are next; ventured 
•OB^^ond drunkenness, of cootse, foDows. The 
'«nft)rtunates incur chastisement, become suUen 
«nd indifferent and draw doi«rn upon diemselves 
a harshness which augments the e^iki of their 
condition. They fly from their masters, lire 
retaken and sent to labour on the. plantations 
^Where they disseminate discontent, and wait for 
the opportunity of revolt. , 

Such is a summary of the state o£the slaves in 
•this island. If happifiess is^ to be considered aa a 
constituent of prosperity, it is impossible to assert 
a land of slavery to be prosperous. The two 
colours are in perpetual. dread of each other. 
The indolence of the whites is met by the tndif- 
fei^nce of the blacks; luxury is sickened and 
Yep<^e agitated, Mobile delicacy and. feeling ffy 
firom scenes where they are every moment liable 
to be disturbed. Thus live the motley popula- 
tion of a West India island, holding nothing ia 
common but a faith,' whose peculiar ; doctrine is 
ihat they will all ultimately meet together — in 
concord and in Heaven. 



Re-establishment of the Constitntion — detail of its consequencftl. 
Situation \ ttoritorial divisioA and gbyermikietit of thtf isMnd. 
Administratidn of Justice \ number of Counsel^ or Ab6^adio^$, 
Junta' ProvineiiU, Delegation to the Cortet. The City of 
Havana — described. Yellow Ferer; some of the causes of 
its preyalence. Rents of houses; conslructibn of iLern* 
Shojps. Public building^. Churches' and Conyetifs. &clesl. 
astical population. University of San GerwUmo, Schools 
and establishments for public instruction. Education atid 
mental character of a Spaniard, Clergy ; their constitutional 
bias. Archbishoprick of Cuba; churches in its diocese, 
fiishoprick' of Havana ; churches' In its diocese. R^edtf^ 
of the bishop and aergy. Diiisfon'^f £lie' City. > <a}ah<iM>n 
and itfiilitia. Ccmpanid's Urbdwf^^r-ikii&t number and use. 
Freqnen^ of assassination. 

I HAVE introduced you to my frieods here ; it 
is high time we should proceed to visit them in 
their dwellings, and learn how they live. . On 
our way, it would be adviseable to give you some 
idea of the politics of the island, for the effer- 
vescence of feeling is so great at ^present, that wo 
shall hear nothing in private. but discoasions on 
publia afikirs and probably find the mass of the 

46 LETTEItSr- r 

Hawnero^s collected in the Plaza j or greal 
square, attending some constitutional ceremony. 
Every thing now is constitutional. The burst of 
liberty, which, after six years of arbitrary govern- 
ment| broke the political slumber of Spain and 
its provinces, rolled as loud and as sudden on the 
ears of the Cvbano^s as the thunder which is now 
pealing above me. No community was ever 
kept more completely out of hearing of all that 
could interest them, than this. Public news 
came thoroughly sifted of every particle of anti- 
despotism, through the government press ; and^ 
though a free trade necessarily brought informa- 
tion, it rested, like the miasmata of fever, chiefly 
on the sea-shore. It' seemed as if the body-politic 
was like the body-natural, that the head was the 
sole seat of intellect, for the state of the country, 
was secreted in the public -departments, not even a 
map of the island being allowed to be published.* 
It soon, however, appeared that ^^ the very body 

* The i^veniineDt of the Havana was not iU-proTided with the 
apparatus of despotic power, as the following : — 

^ Extract of the report made by the deputation of the Junta 

Provincial respecting the prisons of the Hayana, May SSnd, 

1820/* will show. *' In the Cabana they were horror-stmck 4t 

finding dark dungeons, damp and unhealthy, which have been 

' liitiierto employed in afflicting humanity. They fomidjonmne]n 


On the 15th April 18S0, a merchant vessel 
finom Corunna brought a copy of the Madrid Ga- 
zette of the 7th of March, containing an account 
of the accession of the king of Spain to thecon*^ 
stitution of 1813. This news transpiring, the 
governor found it advisilble to publish a DiariQ 
Extraordinarioy in which, after acknowledging th^ 
l*9eeipt pf such intelligence, he added ^^But his 
excellency the captain general kn&ws no ather guide 
than the will of his soDiereign and he z&dfts it^s 
^pressim" The people, and more particularly 
the military, immediately took the alarm, inter- 
preting this notice as an expression of disinclina-f 
tion to the constitutional regime, and crowding, 
together into the Plaza de Armas where the go-f 
vemment-house is situated, they loudly demiand-^ 
ed the eaptaih-general to take an immediate 

yrho had been Retained there for many yean in Vigorous confine^ 
ment without condemnation, solely on account of official intima- 
tion of their- being suspected of want of fealty to the government 
6f New Spain, In the castle of the Moro^ in tiie PunttZy in 
El Principe^ the Dragoon barracks, and those of the White 
Militia, San Telmo^ and the' Artillery ; the place» destined for 
criminals are well ventilated, dry and spiicious ; but the prisons 
of tiie Arsenal are narrow galleries ^ and those of La Fuerza* 
and the Black barracks are dark and want aii*.** 

:*La l^iersa or ijie.cita^el is the governor's palaee. Oeneral 
Renovoles died in the dODgeons of La Cahana the same day the 
report was dated. ' ^ 



-oath of adherence to the new order of things. 
This strong indication of public spirit compelled 
the governor to accede to their wishes, aiid ac- 
cordingly on the evening of the 1 6th. (on the 
morning of which day his notification, as above, 
was published,) he took the oath required, and 
was followed by the other public authorities. 

It was curious to see how suddenly this city of 
statutes started into life. The very slaves, as if 
refreshed by the air of freedom that blew round 
them, seemed elated with the change. The first 
thought was to establish the lapida, or pillar of 
the constitution^ which, being a piece of political 
superstUiony happily united the two uppermost 
ideas of the people. The next fundamental pro- 
ceeding was to alter all the royal emblems and 
names into others of a more popular kind. The 
Plaza de Fernando Septimo became the Pla% de 
la Constitudon ; the Real LaJteria became La 
iMteria Constitucional^ and iheReal Hadenda^ or 
Royal Domains were titled Hacienda Publica. 
Then followed the desofficing the royal Alcalde's, 
Regidores ( who, in the Havana, had paid eight 
thousand dollars for their situations) and other 
municipal ofBcei*s, re-instating those who held 
those places under the rule of the Cortes, 

The press, now possessed of freedom, com- 
menced pouring forth odes, sonnets, advices, 


tessays, and every species of composition by every 
species of author. No less than fourteen pe- 
riodical papers made their appearance in a few 
weeks, besides a prodigious number of sheets and 
half sheets, all filled with politics and details of 
the abuses that existed under the late form of 
government* Unhappily most of these works 
are tinctured with personality, which has given 
rise to much threatening and counter-threatening^ 
and afforded constant employment to the Junta de 
CensurOy (or board for censuring defamatory pub-^ 
lications) in seizing objectionable works. 

The strong spirit excited against the arbitrary 
exercise of power, has, unfortunately, raised an 
opposition even to its constitutional employ. 
Doubts have been continually rising about the 
extent of particular authority, and, "as the appeal 
is always made to the people in pretty strong 
terms, the officers of government are diffident of 
using it. A kind of Saturnalia exists at present ; 
the people have received liberties and take more. 

* The titles of some of these may afford an idea of their style 
and contents. El Mosquito (The Mosquitp). -'^Zla ^vr^pa ^he 
Wasp).— i^a Mosce^ (Tfe Fly).— J?? Etquife (The Skiff).— JE?/ 
Sartre Contiiucional (The Constitutional Tailor).-— X(w rugidot 
de un lean Africano (Roaring o% an African Lion).-»12aj'^a« 
brillantes de arbitriedad (Brilliant Deeds of DespotisoB|« be- 
■ides an infinity of Prociamo\ Manifiesto*gf &c. by private in* 
difidaals ^ d mis eanciudanas^ ilusires Habanfiro'tJ** 

D 2 

si ' XiETTBRS;: r 

X:b<^ opinion ;of the goveridiQBt, m to th0.:teii^DT 
cy of this spliiit may b.^ ioSjrred, from the fir^uent 
repetition of its assurance that. ^^ nothing; is &irr 
ther from the thoughts of the herttepleopte of this 
island, than dif ision from the intejrest bf the 
'Peninsula, iiotwitfastanding^the efforts made by. a 
few ignoraait indinduals to persuade them that 
thej lie 8e))arate." Cki the contr^j, I am int 
dined to think that the ^^ Aeeoie peopk^^^ ane the 
only persons \^ho entertain such notions, and that 
the 5eiz$tf of the Island is counter to that ^^^vaulting 
ambition'' 'if hich would certainly' ^f oT^rleap it- 
self.'.r : The independence of Cuba ^ill meet with 
many obstacles^ if it ever takes place. At present 
the amount and mixed nature of its population 
will prevent it standing singly^ The very at- 
tempt would prove, its incapacity. As to the fu^ 
turej whatever population it may possess^ it 
stands so equivocally between- the territories of 
two powers whose rivalry is y eady sf ntogthening^ 
that its jeopardy seems to be great. The mater*? 
nal tie will be loosened by time, and the exam- 
ples of colonial independence, which this quarter 
of the globe powerfully affords ; biit qs a singk 
state, I must doubt if there be a basis witle 

* Tliere is much Napoleonism in public addresses, ^ nius- 
irioui^'-noble-'4ieraic** are the usual appellatives employed in 
the oioot trifling parish business. 


enongh for its -ereciioB and die letist polkicid gust 
would have a fearfiil effect upon il3 tenqijly. 

These are fipeculations I had determined not 
to make» • Mj- purpose was to give ;ou a sum- 
maiy account of this island, and its inhabitant^ 
without venturing on. political prophesy, whicb 
the mutable age we live in is peculiarly unfavor- 
able to.. I. will riesume it by describing the i^and 
pnderks new form of government. 

The figure of the island of Cuba is a bent ob« 
long, arching towards the Florida stream, from 
the north western coast of Santo Domingo, and 
spreading across the month of the gulf of Mexico^ 
to the point of cape QUoche. From east to west 
a mountainous ridge runs nearly the whole lengtti 
of the island, from which spring a great number 
of rivers, but whose coarse, north add south, t0 
the sea is too short to admit of their arriving at 
magnitude. One or two (such as the Rio's Sa- 
gua la grande, Giguia Jariwo, and Santft Crioz) 
allow small vessels to work lip to load, about 
It league ftt>m the sea. 

The island (wiiich lies betw^n 73"" 50' and 
jE^ 3ff west longitude, and 33? 30' and 19^ 40' 
north latitede> is, as you may compute, nearlj 
700 miles long^ but little more than 50 or 60 
broacU It is popularly divided iato tw;Q piarts 
by a suppMoiilin^ drai^ni north and aoutb| along 

64 lil^TTERjS 

the eastern border of the province of Havana 7 
the tract to the west being termed *^ Vuelta 
aftflura*' that to the east " Vuelta arriba.^^ The 
legitimate division is into three provinces^ 
Havana^ Cuboj and Puerto Principey over each 
of which there is a governor ; but that of the 
Hfroanoy being also captain-general of the 
island) gives that province precedence. Each 
province is divided into P,flrtido\s or portions'^ 
(usually from one to two leagues square) of 
which the province of Hceoana contains 76, that 
of Cuba 32y and Puerto Principe 12. These 
include only the inhabited part of the island, a 
vast tract in the interior and the southern coast 
lying as yet unnamed and unappropriated. 

Over each partido there is a Capitan de ParOdOf 
immediately subject to the governor of the pro* 
vince. His duty is to preserve the public peace, 
keep the roads free from obstruction, and publish 
and enforce the proclamations of government 
Those towns^ however, in the partido which 
possess qyuntamiento^Sy or corporate bodies, are 
exempt from hk jurisdiction. These govern 
their own district, subject to the junta provincial 
cnr assembly of the province, to whom they are 
obliged to furnish an annual statement of the 
collection and disbursement of what public 
money they are entrusted with. Of these ayun- 


tamiento^s (the members of which are elected hy 
the inhabitants of the town) there are 4S in the 
province of Havana, every place which possesses 
a thousand souls being entitled to this municipal 

The partido^s and prpileged towns are further 
divided into parroguia^s^ or parishes, every parish 
having a cura or rector, and, in the election of 
deputies to the cortes and the junta provincial^ 
choosing a delegate to assist at the electoral 
meeting* of the Partido.* 

The administration of justice in the Parlido's 
rests with the Alcalde's resident in the different 
towns. Their authority extends, however, merely 
to hearing and determining (with the assistance 
of two good and honest men, together with an 
escribano or attorney) all civil demands not ex- 
ceeding one hundred dollars, and all criminal 
matters, touching peace and morals, which only 
merit light correction. Matters of higher con- 


sequence are cognizable by the audiencia or high 
court of justice, consisting of a regenle, nine 
minislro^s^ and two Jiscals^ who have authority 

* For electoral purposes the proTince of Havana is dmded 
into 12 Partido^s, — ^Havana, Santiago de Compostela; Bejucal^ 
S. Antonio Abad ; Guanajay ; Guanabacoa ; Pinal del Rio ^ 
Gitinesj Jamco^r Mataazas; Santa Clara j Tnnidad. These 
comprise the lesser partido's. 

56 liETTEns 

over the territorial judges/ receiye ^pp^lg in 
matters of tithes and regulate the adoii^sioii of 
abogad6*Sf or counsel, and oiescribano^s^ both of 
ivhpni only practice upon paper;, thd adminis- 
tration of justice (notwithstanding the constitu- 
tional reform) being conducted in the closety and 
all evidence, in cases both civil and criminal, as 
well as arguments and pleadings in the s&ine, 
being arranged and composed by the abagodo's 
and esdibmd's in their offices. 

While I am on .the subject, I cannot help 
intemiptij^g my statistics by observing on the 
love of litigation shown by the Havaner6*s* 
Dublin itself can scarcely vie with it in the 
number of abogado^s or counsel. The island 
can boast of above oite hundred akdjifty of thbse 
^^ learned gentlemen," besides ^Aockotescribano^Sy 
and who, to do them justice, aire as industrious a 
race as any in the old world, l^heir course of 
practise, as I have oliserved, is of a quieter tenor 
than ours ; they- cannot • figure out of their 
^^ es/z^fifoVV which they, now and then, remind 
the public are situated at numero so-and-so, CSsr7/<0 

de at the right hand comer, next to the 

T^enda de ropa, and facing the convent of some of 
the orders ! > Justice here partakes rather of the 
laxity of the climate ; she does not move from 
her seat, and is very slow in her proceediDga* A 


circuit yviih the th^mometeratSO?, would^ ibdeed, 
be tremdidous, and when the feverish irritatnHt^ 
and play of passions are considered, which usiialfy. 
inva<li6» the bands of itinerant brief-hunter^^ a 
tf lK>l^sorne mortality might! be expected on a 
Wist India circuit. 

Perhaps, now the people are become politicians, 
the excitement of litigation will not be in such de* 
inand. Hittiertothe e/ee^ton^ have been service^ 
able in' this way. You are aware that the jcoIo* 
nies of Spain are admitted to a share in the repre^ 
sentation Bsintegraf psirts of the nation.^ Locally 
they have only a Dipktadony or J aaiB, Provincial, 
consisting of nine members, of whom the governor 
and intendant of the province make a part, the 
other seven being elected by the inhabitants. At 
the end of two years, j^r of the seven psake way 
for the same numlier of nk^ merobeHs ; in two 
years more the remaining three are displaced also. 
This board is similar to the council of our colo^ 

Thiiaiinmary will give you knowledge enough 
to allow ' of your entering into society at the 
Havana. We will proceed thither without mora 
delay, therefore. 
. The city of JLa Havana lies, as almost every 

. ^ * The isl^d frendfit^e deputies to tlie Cdrtes, . * 


West India town does, on the flat coast of a bay. 
On approaching^ the city by sea, you behold a 
narrow inlet, on the left of which a high rocky 
prominence is surmounted by a fortress called, 
El Motto. This is a regular and exceeding 
strong work^ whose majestic spread and elevation 
of. masonry, studded with cannon, flags and mili- 
tary flgureS]^ in the full blaze of sunshine, present^ 
a noble and truly imposing sight. On the right 
point of the inlet stands a small square fort called 
£a JPuntOy very inferior in strength and appear- 
ance to the Motto. On sailing between them 
you are hailed by a sentry and required to give 
your name and port of departure, so conroerscible 
is' the width of the inlet, which, having shot 
through, you glide into a harbour, or rather bay, 
extending deep and broad nearly a mile across, 
and three inland. On the right shore behind La 
Puniaj stands the Havana^ presenting its thickly 
built edifices of stone^ interspersed with numerous 
spires of churches and convents, behind the walls 
which surround it. There is an air of solid age 
which the town presents from the harbour, that 
gives it a grand appearance ; the maritime bustle 
gives it interest ; the idea of wealth and luxury 
is strongly impressed on you, add, as you listen 
to the rattling of carriages and thejstrains of gaie- 
ty, and gaze at the peculiar brightness and glitter 


which distinguish tropical scenes, you forget that 
the city before you is the banquetting place of 
death. The situation of the Havana is but too 
favourable to the propagation and retention of 
disease, being, in addition to its fortifications^ 
enclosed on all sides with a circle of rising ground 
which precludes the free circulation of air and 
causes a stagnant cloud of fetid vapour, exhaled 
from a crowded population and the marshy shores 
of the harbour, to hang continually over it. The 
direful yellow fever (here called ''Elvomito negro^^ 
from the final symptom) is found to be nearly en- 
tirely confined in its ravages to the sea shore ; 
at any rate there is not such confiux of human 
beings in the inland towns, and there is conse- 
quently, both a diminished cause of pestilence and 
food for its maintenance. The foreign vessels 
which arrive here sufier greatly. Whole crews 
are swept off within a few weeks of their arrival, 
and great difiiculty is found in procuring hands 
for the home passage. Indeed there is scarcely 
an European who escapes an attack, and multi- 
tudes of young ardent adventurers are hurried 
oft^fvom their earthly hopes with a rapidity that 
would appal you ; but, here, as in the ranks of 
battle, the survivors, habituated to the dropping 
around them, scarcely think of turning to note the 


On p£^ing the sea^gate you 'l)ecoBie sensible of 
one great cause of disease, from the insuflferable 
stench of the stores of dried beef and fish which 
are imported for the sustenance of the blacks^ A 
multitude of narrow streets open to jour eye, 
each contributing to the congress of smells, by 
their want of sewers and paving, the holes, worn 
in the ground by wheels and horses, being care- 
fully filled up with ofial. Add to this the swarm 
of black population^ and you have a very fair 
olfactort/ catalogue. 

• The narrow streets are formed of large solid 
liouses, usually one story high, the ground floors 
of which are commonly occupied as shops and 
warehouses. If it be a merchants, the counting 
houses are up stairs, and the ptxtioy or court yard, 
in the centre of the building (round which all the 
jrooms are ranged, opening into balconies) is filled 
with produce, and effects. In the passage from 
liie outward gate to the patio^ sits a fellow whit^ 
man to ege and answer strangers. You would 
think him made by Maillardety so stationary you 
.find him, so perpetually with his figar in his 
mouth and so mechanically regular in the three 
.measured pufl& and the gradual elevation of his 
eyelids, which invariably take place before he an- 
swers you. 

A house of this description, you will be astonish- 


^ to. hear, lets from 8000 to 14,000 dollars per 
Aiiifruai, or in pounds EDglish, frotn £1800 to 
•£3150 U But you will recollect that the Hceoam 
is a regular fortification, and that no more houses 
than those already in it can be built mthin its walls ; 
that the influx of commerce has been sudden and 
its profits enormous; and that both fashion and 
trade have localities. Bieyond the walls, houses 
are not so exorbitant, th(M]gh even thete^.mthait 
situation is considered as possessing soiiie immur 
nity from the fever, thej are veiy high in rent* . 

The dwellings of the nobility and gentry are 
similar in construction to those I have deseribed. 
To the street they present a plain stone front 
with a broad passage opening at the side, in which 
the vobmtej or carriage^ stands. If there are 
apartments on the ground floor, the windows are 
large and high, barred with iron, without any 
glazing, and usually have curtains hung within^ 
ta prevent curiosity and dust from being too ibtru^ 
sive.. < Above are similar windows opening into 
a balcony that runs the breadth of the house 
Thereof is tiled, and of course, in this tropical 
region, has no plume of chimnies crowning its 
top. / 

Most commonly, even in the'faoiises of the nobii^ 
lily, the ground floor is let out for shops, or at 
least nooks are opened at the comersof the house 

62 LETTfiAS 


for that purpose. This relieves the heavindes 
which would otherwise characterize the streets. 
There are ms^nj houses and shops that have oiUy 
a ground floor, which of course have more airy« 
ness in their appearance, especially as the latter 
universally have boards over their doors with 
signs painted on them, as little indicative, how- 
ever of what they contain as the pole of a barber 
is of his suds and razor. Thus one may see the 
figure of a hero, blazoned forth duly with mus^ 
tachia^Sy whiskers^ a huge cocked hat and a Goliah 
sword, underneath which, to prevent mistake, is 
inscribedr-^* El Hhroe EspanoV^ On entering 
the place it designs, you behold a meagre wizen- 
iaced tailor florishing his shears on a shopboard. 
Next door is a jeweller^ or rather silversmith, 
whose portal -is decorated with an interesting 
portrait of a caballeroy with one hand on his heart, 
extending the other towards another equally well- 
drest cabdlero. This is the sign of ^^ El buen 
amigo^'^'-^ihegoodfriendy and on seeing it, you 
might be disposed to enter cordially and purchase 
wilhout fear of imposition, but, alas, one proba- 
bly finds that here, as in other parts of the worldi 
the outward profession is very different from the 
internal £sposition ! 

The public buildings, such, as the Captain 
General's residence^ the Intendendoy the- cathe- 


drd, chardies, convents, &c. show little architec- 
tural skill. The first is a fine building, in the 
midst of a large open space called P/iasa de armas^ 
having a long portico in front, under which the 
merchants assemble as in an Exchange. In other 
respects the plan is the same as in the other great 
houses, eoccept that the lower floor, instead of 
being converted into warehouses, serves for the 
city prison^ thus affording a practical exposition 
of government and a novel piece of architectural 

The churches, and convents are solidly built, 
but have rather an humble exterior. The deco- 
ration of the one and the tenants of the other are 
not exactly in the same style. The altars are 
richly piled with gold and silver adorned with 
well-executed images, large as life, splendidly 
arrayed in costly garments, ^' which moth and rust 
doth corrupt and (as has frequently happened) 
which thieves break through to steal.^^ Amongst 
these, elevated into dxmdtj/^ stands conspicu- 
ously eminent, the virgin wife of the poor car- 
penter of Nazareth, the blessed but the humble 
instrument of God's mercy to mankind. Covered 
with those treasures, which, though here used as 
celestial ornaments, the Apostle tells us find no 
entrance into heoften^ she is exalted at the hig^ 
altar with crowds of devotees prostrate before 

#4 . LBTTEBa 

her^ turnings ih^ir. backs 0D,9.^PP|iiAg iin&ge in 
<B:eonier.extieiuled 0n a ^rossiismcl. crowned^onllr 
.with thorns L ȣxcept for the presence of thi& 
neglected figure, ^ou. might conqeiye jourself in 
tber temple at JSpAemr before the shrine of Diana. 
. The convents- are onlj 12 in number hut are 
not well stocked. The ecclesiastical population 
'4>f the Havana is 417. The whole island contains 
1031 of this class, male and female, so that the 
'^urch militant here is not particularly well oflBi- 
cered. The monastic orders are, t^^e/ii/, in some 
degree^ by having established schools in their 
several convents for the rudiments of knowledge. 
'In the convent of preaching friars (estaUished in 
17S3) there is a kind of unvoersiti/j called of St 
Jerome, with a long list of chancellor, rectors, 
counsellors,.commis8arie8, .fiscal, treasurer, master 
4jf the ceremonies^ and professors of theology^ 
saerei Canons^ cixil jurisprudmcpy medkine^fMhsq' 
pkyy mathematics and huma$utt/. In Februaiy last 
Ae professor of -mathematics: notified by public 
advertisement that he had not been able to pro- 
ceed in hisc6urse because no scholar haiappeared 
at the time of opening ! Beside this there is a 
royal foundation for 34 scholars called the ^^royd 
seminary of San Carlos and Son AmbrosioJ^ The 
economical society of the Hs^vana, at the head of 
which is the intelligent and amiable D. Akxandro 


Hamrezy superintendente general of the island^ has 
e:x€frted itself arduously in promoting and diffusing 
knowledge. Schools on the royal British system 
bs^e been opened, and also others for gratuitous 
tuition in political economy, painting and drawing, 
and the training' of ten deaf and dumb pupils. 
Lectured on anatomy and chemistry have been 
estaUished likewise, and prizies are annually dis- 
tributed' to those students -ly^ho excel. All this 
has been effected in the last three years, and 
under the direction of the above named gentle- 
man. I regret to read in the account of the 
progress of these institutions, written by the se- 
cretary of the economical society, that, some ^^se 
hallen m.enos cpncurridas que alprincipioy en que, 
por mzon de la novedad hubo grande afluencia de 
jovenes*' — ^Uhere was a less numerous attendance 
than oi firsts when a great many youths were at-« 
tracted by the nacelty of the thing." The mana- 
ger ef the Theatre has frequently occasion to 
make the same remark oii the representations of 
his ^^ comedians famosas.^^ 

1 believe the Spaniards to be advancing very 

rapidly towards intellectual day. After a long 

-night they have reason to expect the dawn. 

;They have been some time under the tuition of 

a master, whom mankind usually find to be a 

stera but good teacher— ^dfver^dy, and they 



show a disposition to profit by the lessoM. 
There is something in the prejudices of a Spani- 
ard that is favorable to his advance, though it 
seems paradoxical to say so. He believes his 
country to be the first in the world — the soil of 
every g^od quality and excellence, and it has 
produced — him. He is courteous, he is honor- 
able, because he believes courtesy and honor to 
be the characteristics of a Spaniard. As to his 
pride, he would, indeed, scarcely be a Spaniard 
if without it ; but when knowledge has pruned it 
of that rank exuberance which would overshadow 
all others, it rises into elevation of character and 
sentiment. Thus, I may say, prejudice is the 
mould on which his character is formed. Break 
it and hurl it away, and you will see what a well- 
shaped mind an intelligent Spaniard possesses. 

One honorable trait of the clerical body h^re 
let me not omit. Unlike their brethren in the 
peninsula they have espoused warmly the con- 
stitutional cause. The present bishop was one 
of the deputies to the former chrtes. He is a man 
of high character^ in general esteem. The island 
has two dioceses. Cuba was erected into an 
archbishoprick in 1804, and separated from the 
Havana, which has now a bishop of its own. The 
archbishoprick contains a cathedral, Sd parish 
churches and 5 auxiliaries. The diocese of the 


Havana has a cathedral, erected in 1788, 45 parish 
churches, and 53 auxiliaries. The revenues of 
the bishop are about 60,000 dollars per annum. 
The usual income from benefices is from SOOO to 
13,000 dollars. 

The citjr is divided into 16 quarteles^ and has 5 
barrio^ or suburban parishes. It is surrounded 
by a strong wall with a ditch, and, independently 
of the forts Monro and JPunta, has three others 
forming commanding outworks. The garrison at 
present is strong, being composed of six regi- 
ments of the line, four squadrons of dragoons and 
about 500 artillery of the line, between five and 
six thousand regulars in all. There are of militiay 
two battalions of foot and four squadrons of 
horse; SOO artillery ; a regiment of free mulattoes 
and another of blacks, with 4480 foot volunteers^ 
and 70 mounted ditto, (the former being raised 
in June last fi^r the purpose of maintaining order) 
divided into 7 battalions, or 4S compamd*s 

Except the coloured militia, no other are kept 
constantly on foot, but usually exercise every 
Sunday in companies, and are reviewed in line 
once a year. The number of military in the 
other parts of the island is small, not above four 
or five thousand militia, and 70 regular artillery. 
The volunteer companies are, besides, established 

£ 2 


ia all the townd, but cannot be considet^e'd as $: 
field force, nor am I inclined to think, would the 
discipline of the militia be foutid sufficient for real 
practise in line. Taking a range of SO miles 
round the Havana^ there were, in 1817, 30,577 
white males from 15 to 60 years of age, including 
the city population. Allowing for rank in life, 
natural and accidental incapacity, perhaps, a third 
should be deducted, and this will leave a recruit- 
ing total for the militia of 13^712 men. Allowing 
stilt farther for the difficulties that would arise, in 
case of an attack on the Havana, in concentrating 
this spbcies of force, or even the possibility of 
drawing them from the necessary duties of home, 
you will judge of the mass of military force that 
could be employed. 

The companid's urband*Sf I mentioned, were 
embodied in June last, for the preservation of 
order. Their duty is to parade the streets in 
detachments nightly, and this duty is unfortu* 
nately too necessary. Till of late assassinations 
have been frightfully frequent and the numerous 
advertisements in the Diario^s^ offering rewards 
for strayed property, showed the laxity of the 
police and the number of robberies. On the 
18th of June last no less than seven people 
(whites) were assassinated in the streets. A few 
days before, the mayordomo of a nobleman had 


been murdered in the day time while seated in hi3 
apartment. Indeed not a day passed without 
some instance of an attempt or commission of this 
most dastardly and horrid of crimes. In a peti- 
tion preferred about this time to the captain-gene- 
ral, by the inhabitants of the Barrio San JjOtarOj 
for a gate to be opened in the city wall from their 
suburb, it is mentioned as a leading reason for 
the request ^^ that they may avoid the num^roiip 
fnurdersy robberies^ and assaults which they are 
liable to from the length of way from their Barrio 
to the AlamedOj or public walk." These circum- 
stances seem to have roused government to some 
little concern about the life of its subjects and the 
compankCs urbant^s were appointed for nightly 

A mixed population, indolence without capital, 
a rage for gambling, and the light hold which 
crime takes upon consciences that can be washed 
dean by human hands^ are to be regarded as the 
causes of this gross moral dereliction.* Perhaps 
if they were taught by their spiritual guides that 
it is sinful, and by their temporal that it is punish- 
able, the character of the city would be different. 
I have frequently called to mind the national 

* One hundred and fifty wounded, amongst Uie military only, 
were admitted into the hospital of San Ambrotio in 1818. 


shudder which chilled 16 millions of people^ when 
the murder of the Marr*s took place some years 
ago in England; and as frequently reflected on 
the anxious solicitude shown by all classes in that 
happy island, (happy even with its radicals) to 
discover and bring to merited punishment the 
perpetrators of such crimes. But I cannot de- 
scribe other countries properly if I am always 
thinking of England. 

My vague details have swelled my packet too 
much. Let us rest a little here, for we have got 
to stroll together over the city still farther. 



Popalation of the HaTana* Markets. Mode of liTing of tlie 
Haicanitn^t, Description of a Volante Corrida dM Tw09^ 
orBuUrfight. The^ZoMeda. Females of the Hcwofia. Hie 
Theatre. Hayana play-bill. Griti(|,ae on the Spanish drama. 
Gaming Houses. Dances. TtrtuUia^s, Catri*, 

In the year 1817, there were, within the walls of 
the Havana, 10,392 white males of all ages and 8, 125 
white females. The total coloured population, 
within the walls, was 12,738 males, and 13,214 
females. Total of m/ranmra/ population 44,319. 
This statement is exclusive of the regular garri- 
son. The five Barrio* s contain 7830 white males ; 
7831 white females; of coloured population, 
6823 males and 7821 females. Total result 34, 178 
whites, 40,596 coloured people. Add to these 
the garrison, and the crews of the vessels that are 
daily entering the harbour, and you will conceive 
so many mouths must require well stocked mar- 

In various parts of the city are large squares 
ealled Plaza^Sy and in these the markets are held. 


72 LETTERir 

Here you will find, about four in the morning, 
an incredible number of white, black, and brown 
Montero's, with the produce of the country twenty 
miles round the town, brought in panniers across 
mules and horses. It is surprising to see how 
the poor animals are loaded with poultry, fruity 
maiz, malaxa (the stalk and leaf of the maiz cut 
green, with which horses, &c. are fed) milk and 
every species of vegetable, while, regardless of 
the already sufficient load, the driver seats himself 
between the panniers, smoking his ^igar and 
flourishing ^^is whip. You never see a mule 
drawing a caH without a driver astride on his 
back, instead of easing the weight by riding (for 
walking is out of the question) in the vehicle. 
Notwithstanding this treatment the hordes look 
well, and will travel many leagues in the heat of 
the sun at a shambling trot, with their burthens. 
They are a small race, about the size, of the road 
hackney of England, and are tolerably docile, be- 
ing usually rode without bridle or stirrups; a 
nose-band or piece of rope is the common rein. 
To finish this veterinary part of my epistle, let 
me add, that th^ horses are seldom shod and never 
curried, but are bathed regularly every morning. 
To return to market — the stalls (which pay a 
duty to the municipality of a real per week, Itnd 
.every loaded horse a real on entering the gates) 


are well supplied with meat, fish, poultry (of 
which the turkies and quails are excellent) and 
every seasonable produce. The price of meat 
and bread is regulated by the regidores^ who, 
previous to the re-establishment of the constitu- 
tion, forestalled for themselves and friends the 
best of every thin^. Meat is about a shilling 
English per pound, and the Ifcnxmero^s devour 
great quantities of it. They breakfast on meat, 
dine on meat, and sup on meat, with buccanier 
appetites. It it a patriotic appetite (if it be not 
constituHonalJ for immense herds jln^ttle range 
in the interior and also are rearedon the potrero^s^ 
or breeding pens. But fresh'^eat, fish^ poultry, 
and vegetables are all the island supplies itsdif 
with. The tasago or dried beef, the bacqloQ 
or dried fish (with which the negroes are fed) 
hams, rice, ahd bM other eatables are supplied by 
foreigners. Flour to the amount of 80,000 bar- 
rels is annually imported ; though the soil of the 
island has been found capable of producing 
wheat. Near the towns of Villa Clara and Sanio 
'Espiriiuto the eaatwdrd, good wh^t is grown, 
as rice is likewise near Las Gtnn^. There nr^ 
some intelligent men in the ialand, not' insefisible 
to the advaiitaged that would acoru^frcdnthe eie- 
larged cultivation of tbese necclssiuries of Ufe^ and 


tbe retention of above two millions of dollars an- 
Dually that are paid for them. 

Luxury need not starve here, nor does it. The 
tables of the rich are covered with a mob of dishes 
and, after the gprace (which I may call the riot actjj 
the surrounding authorities fall on them with 
proper vigour. Dinner parties, however, are not 
usual. When a festive occasion occurs in a &mily, 
the entertainments commence with a breakfast 
which is, in fact, an early dinner. 

The Cuhcmo Cabalero rises early and takes a 
cup of chocolate as soon as risen. He then lights 
his 9igar and either strolls in hispotfo, or balconies, 
or mounts his horse. At ten o'clock he breakfasts, 
on fish, meat, soup, eggs and ham, with wine and 
coffee. Before the company rise from table, a 
little pan with live charcoal, is brought for every 
one tfi^ light their 9igars with. The females, 
except in the upper ranks, smoke also. I can 
scarcely draw the line precise here, for this incli- 
nation of the females to turn into the neuter 
gender, seems very great. I have seen the wives 
and daughters of an Official Reed smoking in the 
streets ! I have seen the wives and daughters 
otAbogado^Sy Physicians^ and Alcalde* s smoking, 
and yet, it is certainly true, what the gentlemen 
tell you, that no lady smokes. This is a knotty 


paradox ; but, if I remember right, the clown in 
^ The Winter's Tale" makes some observations 
very illustrative of the point ; for my part, / am 
not clown enough to attempt it. Smoakingj 
indeed, is so general that the people all look like 
pictures of saints with glorified halo's. It is said 
the poor Mexicans were conquered so speedily 
by their handful of invaders, from the consterna- 
tion excited at the appearance of Cortes^ sixteen 
dragoons, they conceiving the man and horse 
to be one animal. If a body of Spaniards w^e 
now to invade some untobaccoed Mexico, the man 
and his 9igar would certainly have the same fear- 
ful effisct. The children even smoke ! Little 
creatures of five or six years old strut about with 
their ^igars ; and, as parents dress the boys of 
that age in long coats with little canes, they have 
all the air of manhood, and only want whiskers 
to make them appear as if set up to ridicule their 

But I rose rather abruptly from the breakfast 
table. What must we turn to next ? That is a 
question which pozes more than half the Hava- 
nero's very firequently. Something or other must 
be done — and the volante is ordered. This vehi- 
cle has a body like the old French cabriolets, 
set upon Wo enormous wheels, without springs, 
but slung on leathers very easily. It has a pair 


of shafts, to the extreme end of which the horse 
is attached, so that the wheels being at one end 
and the horse at the other, bearing the weight 
equally between them, the bodj swings with a 
sort of palanquin effect. In the streets of the 
Havana only one horse is allowed to thh carriage, 
and^ on it is mounted a stout negro, in a smart 
livery, with long leatlier gaiters, made in the 
form of Jack-boots, to which are attached a pair 
of huge spurs, more calculated for an elephant 
than a horse. In the country the driver usually 
rides another than the shaft-horse, the extra one 
being harnessed as an outrigger. In front df the 
/carriage a piece of dark blueNWOoUeu cloth i^ 
spread, to keep off the dust and sun by day^ and 
the due by night. Immense numbers of these 
vehicles crowd the streets, there bding scarcely 
any creditable white &mily without one ; and, 
for those who cannot afford to keep one, there 
are plenty of hackney vohnies stationed in the 
prinpipfd thoroughfares. 

' The beat^of - the day i» the time for ceremonial 
visiting, and, if it be a Sunday or a; Saint's day, 
you i^ould drive round to make your bows. If 
it be not, you must qall only on your intimates — 
balance yourself aigainst the w^l in ft large arm 
chair — take a bath^ahd— ^dress for dinner. This 
period of renovation js at^hre^ o'clock, and sel- 


dom lasts above an hour, for, like all foreigners, 
the Spaniards do not drink wine after dinner. 
Befor^ they rise from table the little charcoal pan 
again makes its appearance. Coffee ensues. 
The conversation gradually relaxes, and each re«> 
tires to take his siesta. In less thdn an hour all 
are again in motion. The 'oolante is ordered y 
perhaps there is a corrida de toros, or bull-fight, 
and thither the Havana world flock. These 
entertainments take place only occasionally, and 
ar^ held in a large wooden circular building 
without the walls. It is a most difficult thing to 
get entrance, so great is the attraction, especially 
if the bulls are " todos de muerte^^-^all to be 
killed^ and t6 be stuck with fireworks. The pro- 
duce is usually between SOOO and 3000 dollars. 

If there is no corrida^ you will proceed to the 
alameday or public walk, a long regular grove, 
with a broad carriage way and footpatlis and seats 
on' each side. It lies without the walls, at the 
farther extremity, having a military hospital and 
the berraconesj or guard houses where the fresh 
imported negroes are lodged for sale. Thus a 
stranger on casting his eye along, while the road 
way id filled with gay volantes and loungers, may 
see at once the three peculiarities of a West India 
island. — A luxurious population, slavery and the 
yellow fever ! 


It is reallj^ an agreeable scene to view on grand 
tiays this gay concourse. The capacete (or dark 
woollen cloth in front of the toUmte) is removed 
<m these occasions, and the llair cuband*s indulge 
the crowd with an unclounded view of jtheir per- 
tons seated on these whirling thrones. Bright 
dkA eyes in profusion are seen quick glancing 
from passing vohmtesy and these are unshaded by 
ringlet or bonnet, the hair being divided i la 
Greque and always uncovered. It is only while 
at church that the fair one wears her mantilla or 
veil, thrown over the head and shoulders, and 
held more or less close over her face according 
to the state of her devotion. On those occasions 
also, they dress in black, according to the old 
Spanish fashion, but at other times, their attire 
is light and airy, between English and French, 
but more inclining to the latter. In person they 
are generally well-made, and in the upper ranks, 
fair. The manners of these latter are lively and 
agreeable, and though custom sanctions a broader 
cast of expression on subjects which an English 
lady either avoids or blushes at, yet they are, I 
fully believe, unimpeached as faithful wives and 
dutiful daughters. The best proof of this belief 
is, that every one inclines to matrimony. The 
education of females is a point now fuHy attended 
to. French^ music, geography and history are 


taught in all respectable fitmiltes. There are no 
Hannah Morels here, and therefore Latin is left 
to the gentlemen. 

There is one symptom here of good sense in 
the men and virtue in the vfomen— jealousy seems 
extinct The females range at full liberty, and 
sit at their windows gazing on the passengers 
without fear of being locked up I neither duena^ 
nor lattice have I seen in the house of a husband, 
and, what are still worse tidings to the lovers of 
romance, not a serenade have I heard. 

Of the lower order of white females I wish I 
could speak complimentary. The fact is, they 
want education^ and wanting that, they want every 
thing. Their habits are dirty, their minds and 
manners indolent. You will see female friends 
at the doors of their houses in the cool of the 
evening examining the contents of «ach others 
heads, but not inielleciually. They seem not to 
have the least idea that there is any thing dis- 
gusting in it. I am inclined to believe that the 
S74 foundlings taken to the hospital at the 
Havana last year, must be placed to the account 
of this class. 

This is a digression^ but a natural one. We 
will not, however, return to the alameda^ for it 
is time to go to the theatre, if there is an opera 
performed; if there is only a ^^ comedia famesa*^ 

80 <■ ■ . LETTERS 

we will leave the house to the rabble. It is 
usual to take a box for the season, or a certain 
length of time — three or four months, and if you 
do not, you will get no box seat. You pay four 
reales for your admission at the outward door, 
and afterwards an additional sum according to 
the part of the house, or nature of the accommo- 
dation you choose. The company is tolerable, 
and the house convenient, though not large. It 
is only fully lighted on grand nights, which cir- 
cumstance is always advertised, as is the jpro- 
gramme of the piece, as — " This evening will be 
^^ presented to the illustrious and respectable 
^^ people of the Havana, the famous and much- 
" admired comedy entitled * El Triunfo del Ave 
*^ Maria,^ in which Senor Garcia will perform 
^^ the part of a Gradozo, who delivers many truly 
-<< agreeable and witty speeches, as will the Senora 
^' Gamborino the character of a Graciosa, whose 
^^ diverting observations and smart speeches 
<^ will give great delight to the audience. The 
<^ comedy will be adorned by appropriate dresses 
<^ and scenes, amongst others the march of the 
^^ heroic Spanish army to attack the infidels, 
<^ with suitable warlike accompaniments — the 
^^ Spanish hero on horseback-^the moorish chief- 
<^ tain advancing to challenge the Spaniards, when 
^^ the Spanish conqueror with the assistance of the 

FROM THE a^ YAK A. 81 

f^Jve Maria will cut off the head of the moor ;-^ 
f' with uumj oth§r agreeable and surprising inci« 
^^ dents. After this will be performed the e3:celr 
^Uent and much admired piece called The re^ 
^^ establishment of the amstUutUm^ ^^ written by an 
^^ emip^nt patriot, where will be. seen the ceremo- 
^By of laying the lapida of our most glorious 
^^ constitution. Also wiU be seen the portraits of 
<( those Spanish heroes, Quiroga and RiegOj and a 
<< procession of Alcalde^ s and. other authwitiest 
^ The Theatre will be illundnated with perfe<^ 
f^ brilliancy so as to afford this most respectable 
5^ public e^^ry satisfiiction." — I have seen a Spa* 
nish work/published ia London the beginning of 
Ihis year, iwhidi says the English Theatre is in a 
state of $emi^hitkaiism»> I will not say itbe samie^ 
txm^j/^ of the Spanish Theatre^ Init there certaioi^ 
ly ismudi wildneiBs (poetic if you please) in their 
dramatic compositions. Of their modem drama 
little can be said ; there is a playfulness in their 
dialogue but nothing of charatter^ which I take 
to be the main requisite. Tiieir old writers are 
&U of fiiociful expression; but their heroes, their 
ffradoso*s and tUeir ladies, only vary in names ; 
they are the- same beings «arided through a series 
pf plots. . IdunkJUiir^lohasdiewnmorediscrimii' 
nation and delicate touch in respect to character 
ihaa most of the fonner wrifers. His ^.Pmnem 


69 la Honrd'* has these qualities with much natu- 
ral growth of sentifnent, less choahed by metapho- 
ric flowers than usual. The saynete^Sy or enter^ 
tainments of the Spaniards have a good deal of 
Bpirit in their dialogues — Much of the gracioso 
character,' which is quip Rud legerite; but the 
higher order of pieces are stilted and bombastic^ 
full of strange anachronisms, tedious speeches and 
walking gentlemen. As to the aforesaid prO' 
gramme and the Hcmana taste, I am restricted 
from saying more, because I just recollect I saw 
^ Timour the Tartar^^ Madame Sacchij and an 
elephant in a christmas pantomime on the boards of 
a London Theatre-royah 

There is yet a time-killing resource if the 
Theatre is not attractive. A short distance be- 
yond the walls of the Havana are situated two or 
three large elegant houses with spacious saloons 
and painted decorations, for I forgot to tell you that 
the apartments of the houses are whitewashed 
half-way from the cieling and painted below in 
compartments in a very gay stile. A lamp hangs 
from the centre — A so&, little tables £tted to the 
corners and ranges of rather ordinary chairs, com- 
pose the whole of the usual fitting up of apart- 
ments. The houses I allude to are, however, more 
splendid in their furniture. They are the resi- 
dences of individuals who light them up nightly 


and thro^r open the doors to the public. Any 
white person may enter without invitation and 
there he or she will find music for dancing, and 
tables for playing* monte^ the favorite game of the 
Cubaho^s. In point of fact these are gaming^ 
Ttauses where the owner makes his profit by the 
tables. So little does opinion incline against 
them, that they are held by persons who are in, 
otherwise, respectable life, and fiithers of &milies 
frequent them with their wives and daughters, so 
that you will really find good company there. 
' You have probably heard that dancing is a &- 
vorite West India amusement. It is not so much 
the rage here as in the English islands, but still 
it is a favorite. The minuet (the proper dance 
of the climate) keeps a place here though nearly 
banished the other world. The Fandango is the 
truly national one and you may frequently see it 
performed as you pass the houses in the evening. 
The Tertuttia is the Spanish rout, conducted, 
however, with due gravity and order. . The Ha« 
vana can supply many room fulls of agreeable 
and pretty women and rational gentlemenly men ; 
but there is a formal air in the good breeding of 
the latter very old-schoolish. When a well-bred 
cdbaUero takes leave after a visit he will make you 
a bow of a most correct right angle^ another| 

F 2 

84 . i^lSTtSKS 

when half way to the door, and it third be turner 
rband to mab^ as he touches the threshold. All 
this is very well, it looks cpiirteouei and stately 
and wcHrid iiopress one with a high notiqn of bc^r. 
bituid di^wing^ro09i maniiiprs, if the^ g^niljemaii; 
had not been, all the time Qf>hji$ivisi^ spittings 
round his thaijr so 9& to nearly turn your sto- 
mach. . 

I am beginning to be censorious again^ The 
feet is I am tired of my pleasurable tour, and it 
is now high time to think of. repose. 

The bed most commonly, used is merely a eross- 
legged frame of wood, on which is stretched a 
piece! of fanvas. On this ue. hid a pair of thin 
dieets betwe^ which you extend yourself, while 
a slender framework upholds a h^t which dlosea 
aU round you to exclude the mosquitoes. This is 
ctalled a Caire. It requires a little habit to recon- 
cile your banes to its use, but its freshness wiU 
certainly induce you to change yonr mattrass for 

On this dormitory (if. there are neither scorpi** 
ens nor lizards^ nor arana peludd*s, ^f or. large 
liairy spiders whose bite is venemous'? nor cock<9 
roaches, under my pillow) I ean lay myself down 
with much satisfection, especially, if, on closing 
piy eyes upon the scenes 1 have described to you> 


I am borne back in visions to ^^ that precious stone 
set in the silver sea'' whose murmuring popula* 
tion only require to be placed out of it for a space, 
to regard it as it is — ^the land of good sense, re« 
finement, rational enjoyment, and, let me empha- 
tically add, ratUmal liberhf. 

86 I.ETTBB» 


feundation of the Havana; progress of its commerce ; 6pemng 
of its port to a national trade ; other ports of Cuba so pri« 
vileg^ed. Effects of this measure on the reyenue of the 
island. Rapid advance of Matanzas, National monopoly 
destroyed, and free commerce conceded to the ports of 
Havana, Cuba, Trinidad andMatanxas. Effects of the same. 
Revenue ; aid supplied by it to other governments. Exports 
of the island ; imports. Ports of Baracoa and Mariel opened. 
Recent difficulties of the treasury of the island ; their causes. 
Resources ; disposition of the government to encrease them. 
New settlements on the island ; account of their progress and 
condition. Funds for promoting them and other institutions^ 

It is commerce which has made the Haoana 
what it is^ and upon its increase or decline de- 
pends the peopling of the vast tracts of this island 
which have lain for centuries untrod. Cuba had 
been settled for many jears before its importance 
and value were understood, even bj the settlers. 
Diego Velasquez^ when he founded the Havana 
in 1515, thought onlj of rendering it a stepping- 
stone to Mexico, and a depot for military adven- 
turers. The tide of population rolled on to the 


casta frme as the grand scene of speculation, oc- 
casionally touching at, or being repelled back to, 
this port from the shores of New Spain and 
Florida. In 1576, however, it appears to have 
become a place worth attending to,for,in that year, 
the Franciscans founded a convent of their order 
in the Havana, and were followed, two years 
after, bj the Dominicans. Another proof of its. 
rising importance is, that it was twice sacked by 
the English and French about the same period. 
It was not walled round till 1633, when the cap- 
tain-generalship of the island having been annexed 
to the government of the city, it became the point 
of concentration for commerce, the galleons ma- 
king it their regular port of entry. This com- 
merce, however, (carried on solely by galleons 
and register ships) remained long so trifling and 
unproductive, that the expences of government 
were nearly entirely borne by the treasury of 
Mexico, eighteen hundred dollars being annually 
remitted for that purpose. The ports of this 
island, which are, for the most part, capable of 
containing ships to any amount of number or 
burthen, were suffered to lie unused, on the 
futile principle of exclusive monopoly. It was 
not till 1778 that Spain saw the impolicy of such 
restriction, but, as if awoke in the dark, she acted 
with fear and caution, opening only a few of the 


ports of this island to an idtercouHscr with thd 
peninsula. These were the Havana^ CtAa^ iSinu 
dadj and Batabcmb. The same privilege was sub- 
sequently granted to other ports; and^ as the 
dates of these grants afford a mean of judging^ of 
file local advance of various parts of the island 
and the course which the flow of population has 
taken^ I shall give them here — 

NuEViTAS (on the north coast, in the jurisdiction 
of Puerto Principe, 170 leagues east of the 
Havana) 5th August, 1784. 

M ATANZAS (on the north coast, 2S leagues east 
of the Havana) 3d December, 1793. 

San Juan de los Remedios (on the north 
coast, 00 leagues east of the Havana) I4tli 
May, 1796. 

Bar ago A (on the north east coast 334 leagues 
from the Havana, and 78 from Cuba) 21 st 
July, 1803. 

ManzanilI/O (on the south coast, in the juris- 
diction of Bayamo, S18 leagues from Havana) 
21st July, 1803. 

El Goleto (on the south coast, in the jurisdic- 
tion of Santo EspiritUj 114 leagues from the 
Havana) gist July^ 1803. 

Previous to the year 1778 (when the first 


named ports wcfre partially liberated) the e!cp<M*t 
of the staple commodity, sugar, was little tiiore 
than 900,000 quintals, equal to 13,500 English 
hogsheads.* The worst soil in the West Indies 
produces more than a hogshead of 16 cwt^ from 
every two acres, and, therefore, tliking even this 
minimum, it. would seem that only S5,000^ acres 
cultivated with sugar, out of the many milliona 
which the island contains. But the advantages 
accruing to agriculture and trade were sddn ob- 
servable, and -that we may more clearly note 
them, it will be proper here to notice the fimuH 
cial arrangement of the island, from theresultoof 
which we must estimate its progress. 

The island is divided into three tntendandes or 
finance goyetnmeni&-^^ax)anayCuba^^nii^Puerio 
Prindipcy the Intendant bf the first bbing the 
Superb^embmie general de hadendd ptiMiaimd 
bavihg tiie entire administration of the revenuef. 

* A quinial m equal to a cw^. Four arrobaU make a quintal 
and every eaxa^ or box of Spanish sugar contains firom 16 to 20 
arr^ba^s. The coxa is 45 inches long, and 22| inches Inroad. 
There is no rule as to the height, that depending on the size of 
the bOiirdi. This accounts for the variation as to contents. Hie 
cascas themselT^s umially weigh from 35 to f Ofi^ each. In the 
boeois of melasses there b the same inequality, there being finom 
16 to 20 barrels in each boeay / the barrel contuning lOyWucvV 
or 30 quartiUo** or pints. 

A pipe of rum contains l^OJrweo'* or 67$ gaDoot. JiiWtifi 
exported 73,304 hogsheads of sugar in 1774^ 


Subordinate to these Indendandes are ten subal- 
tern districts, ox Administraciones terorerias^ under 
the management of Subdelegado's. These have 
the care of the interior revenue (which previous to 
the year 1703 was not worth collecting) and have 
Administradores eXjaiiiovkeA. throughout the districts 
for the purposes of collection. Every habilitated 
port has its Subdelegadoy likewise subject to the 
Intendente of his district. 

There are no perfect returns of the produce of 
the ten Administraciones till 1762; the records 
being partialli/ destroyed by moths (edax archi- 
vorum) up to that year, and entirely so previous 
to 1735. In the former year (1762) the total 
produce of these districts was S3,040 dollars, or 
jg5184. In 1778 they produced 168,624 or 
£353690. Particular instances show the ad- 
vance more strongly. l^heioYfn o( MatanzashsiA. 
a Subdelegado, appointed in 1756. Its situation, 
on the north coast, 22 leagues from Havana, 
looking down the gulf of Florida, possessing a 
good harbour and a fertile tract of country around 
it, seemed peculiarly favourable to commerce. 
But in 1762 it produced in revenue the paltry 
item of 74 dollars, or £16 . 13^. II Though not 
habilitated till 1793, yet its proximity to the 
Havana occasioned its participation in commercial 
extension, and in 1780 its revenue from interior 


duties produced 7167 dollars, or jgl6l2 .11.6; 
one hundred times its former produce. In 17J94! 
(being the end of the first year of its habilitation) 
the duties on entry amounted to 81S dollars, or 
£182 • 14, and its internal duties to 9091 dollars, 
or jgg045 .9.6; being together £2228 .3.6. 
In '1818 this same Matanzas; contributed in re- 
Teliue a total of 249,023 dollars, being £56,030, 
having in the space of 56 years encreased the 
produce of its imposts nearly ybur thousandfold!* 
The total amount of the ten districts from inter- 
nal duties was, in 1818, 618,036 dollars, or 

You will observe that these ten districts do not 
include the Havana, and that the duties, the 
amount of which I have stated, are laid on internal 
deali ngs. Their amount, therefore, is only evidence 
of the progrss of population and domestic trade ; 
and it gives these results, that little more than a 
century ago, the first was not sufficiently numer- 
ous and concentrated, or the second of sufficient 
value tb bear imposts ; and that, since these were 

* This port dmring the last year (1S19) received 26S yessels, 
and had 265 clear out, havings been priviledged as a free port in 
1809. The export of sugar was, 42,279 caxcu ; of coffee, 47,f 41 
arroba*s. Five thousand four hundred and forty-seven negroes 
were imported from Africa to this place during the same period. 
Total produce of imports 308,419 dollars. 

laf dy the adyancd of population and inteinal trade 
has b6en in rapid progress. No one can doubt 
that these benefits have arisen from a change of 
system, from the shackles of monopoly being bro- 
ken and commerce allowed the range it requires. 
But the decree of 1778 did not give such scope; 
A i^estriction of intercourse to Spain, and in 
Spanish bottoms was little suited to the craving 
nature of trade, and the political circumstances of 
the mother country, made even that privilege al- 
most nugatory. In thirty years Cuba had little 
njore'than trebled her produce of ^ugar^ It is 
true she had raised a new and highly productive 
staple— coflfee ; that the tobacco she cultivated 
was *the first in die market; and that nearly 
80,000 arroba's Of wax were exported annuaUy. 
But notwithdtanding these additional products (rf** 
her soil and industry, still, previbus to the admis^ 
aion of foreign vessels into her ports, the total 
amount of her exports was not much above 
£,0(30,000 dollars, or jgl^00O,OOO,* while the 
revenue raised upon this, the return cargoes and 
internal duties did not suffice, by nearly a million 
and a half of dollar^ for the payment of govern- 
inent expences. 

The cure for these evils was at last attempted, 

* JanudcB in 1774 exported abQve Uie Talae of iB9|000,000. 


ipadin 1809 the ports of the Havana, Cubaj^Trini*- 
dad^and Matanzas were thrown open to the vessels^ 
of all nations and the speculative industry of the 
world. Since that period a considerable advance 
has been made towards improvement in every 
way. Above eleven hundred ships of all flags 
now enter annually the port of Havana. So 
greatly has the cultivation of coffee encreased that 
it is estimated 25,000,000 dollars are vested in 
that branch, in the province of Havana. About 
double that sum is the amount^ which the best in* 
formed people judge, has been added to the em- 
ployed capital of the island within the few yeara 
that a free trade has been conceded to it. Con- 
current with the advance of agriculture and 
commerce has been that of the revenue which 
annually amounts to above four millions of dol- 
lars; the statement for the year ending 3ls% 
December 1819 giving 4,104,568. In 1818 the 
receipts amounted to 3,793,914 dollars, which 
added to 573,668 dollars, the balance of 1817, 
gives a total of 4,366,982 dollars. The expen- 
diture for 1818 was 3,686,993 dollars, leaving a 
surplus of 679,989 dollars for the service of 1819. 
During this last year the receipts, as I have men* 
tioned, were 4,104,568 dollars, which with the ba- 
lance of 1818, afford 4,784,557 ddlars. The ex- 
penditure for 1819 was 3,847,890 dollars, leaving a 

■ i\ ■ 


balance of 936,667 dollars carried to the account 
of the current year 1820, 

When from the expenditure of the island you 
have deducted 469,370 dollars remitted to the 
Floridas for their support (for you are aware these 
provinces form part of this captain-generalship); 
nearly 100,000 to Santo Domingo and the emi- 
grants from it ; about a million and a half to the 
regulars in garrison and the royal marine, exclu- 
sive of militia expences ; !i5,377 dollars to Puerto^ 
Rico and nearly 400,000 to support the royal 
causes in S. America ; you may form an estimate 
of the advantages which a free trade has conferred 
on this island. The Havana alon^ in 1819 ex- 
ported — 

192,743 boxes of sugar j ^^bour ( ^^^^^^^ ^^t. 

642,716 arroba's of coffee . . 160,679 cwt. 

30,845 bocois of melasses . . 1,974,000 gallons 

2,830 pipes of rum . . . 191,017 gallons 

19,373 arroba's of wax . . 4,843 cwt. 

The value of these may be estimated at about 
nine millions of dollars, or more than two millions 
of pounds sterling. — From the port of Matanzas 
(next in point of commerce to that of the Havana) 
were exported in 1819 — 


*14,760 boxes of sug^ar . . . 60,000 cwt. 
35,198 arroba's of coffee . . 8,799 cwt. 
8,216 bocois of melasses • . 5S5,804 gallons 

The valae of these exports may be computed to 
be a million of dollars. The exports of the port of 
Cuba amount to nearly the same sum, judging 
from the produce of its imports, for want of the 
returns of its commerce. Trinidad, by the same 
mode of calculation, exported in value about two 
hundred thousand dollars. The port of Baracoa 
was in August 1815 allowed to receive four or 
five foreign vesselst with articles of first necessity, 
and in December 1816 entirely laid open, but its 
commerce is very inconsiderable, notwithstanding 
that the duties imposed are only half of those le- 
vied at the Havana. Mariel, likewise, an excel- 
lent port some leagues to the west of the Havana^ 
has been habilitated by royal order of !S9th Fe- 
bruary 1820. its export, however, (to the amount 
of nearly 50,000 boxes of sugar, besides coffee 
&c.) has hitherto been sent to the Havana and 
cleared out fi'om thence. From this summary 
review, therefore, it would appear that the value 

* There were also 27,519 boxes of sugar \ 12743 ftiToba*s.of 
coffee, and 139 liocois of melasses cleared out for other ports oi 
the island ; bat this is chiefly included in the Havana export. 

t Stieh are the terms of the royal decree of habilitation ! 


ofexpoi^ts^ inland of Cuba, in sugai^ 
coffee^ wax, rum.and melasses, amounts to abopt 
1 1,800,000 dollars, pr ^2,520,000. 

In addition to this Ihe island exports tobacco to 
the mnount of nearly two millipnQ of dolljirs ; 
Atcfei tQ tbe value of 80,000 dollars^ and preserve^ 
fruit^^ cabinet wood, honey, &c. amounting to 
l£fO>000 dollars. Thus the export of produe# 
may be estimated at 13,230,000 dollars, pr 

On th^ other hand, the island imports flour^ 
FiQ^} ^ ^nd dry provisions to the amoiuit pf 
^500,000 dollars ; lumber to ^he valuQ of 700,OQ9 
dollars, and manufactured goods to that of 
^,000,000 dollars; in all 9,200,000 dollars, or 
£2,070,000. You will observe that I have not 
considered the slave trade, the most profitable qf 
|J1, and which has been in full vigour during the 
petiod from which this calculation has been made. 
4.t the lowest estimate^ slaves to the value qS 
5,000,000 dollars have been brought tp the island 
during the last year. I am very much inclined tP 
believe that the great prppprtion of capital emr 
ployed in.this traffic was ybreigrit, and consequc^tr 
ly the profits cannot be credited entirely to the 
island. Taking, however, the value of the 
imported slaves into the general estimate^ tbd 
total imports would be 14,200,000 dollars, or 

FllOM TJ^fi a4(V AN A* Vf 

Xfais ikr has the commerce of the Havana ad- 
yapced in the short period of eleven years, though 
^considerably harassed by the armed cruisers of 
the dissident provinces of Spanish America and 
feelings in common with the world at large, the 
political quakes of Europe. Qf late, indeed, 
(that is^ within the last nine months) commerce 
h»» slackened sensibly. The exhausted state of 
the mother country, the shaken credit of the uni- 
ted, states and the pressure of restrictive systems 
which. JBurope has not yet. abandoned have 
affiicted;thet^|(pprt^ of the island and consequently 
the revenue derived from them. In consequence 
of tibese circumstances and their visible effects, the 
''government here on the 19th of June last (1830) 
were obliged to adjust their imposts to the ne- 
cessities of the time. The reasons given for new- 
modelling the duties are — ^^ the decay of maritime 
^^ trade — the small entry of vessels — ^the lessened 
'^ exportation of produce* the lowering of its 
.^^ value, particularly of rum and melasses which 
^^ scarcely pay their transport to a place of ship- 
'^ ment, and this also occurring at a time zsJien a 
<< traffic most essential to the cultivation of the plant- 

* Above 10,000 bo&es of sugar more were exported m the fint 
seyeif mdiitbs of tSlB than the same period of 1S19, and there 
were nearly 200,000 anobos of coffee escess in that time abOte 
the export of 1819/ 


9S L^TTElig 

^^ ations is put an end to."* The consequence lias 
been that the revenue has materially suffered^ 
when its expences are encreased by the augment- 
ation of the garrison and the assistance required 
by the mother country for the support of its cause 
on the Terra Jbrma of America. When the con- 
stitution was re-established a few months back the 
payment of imposts was withstood by nearly every 
class of people here, conceiving that the abroga- 
tion of arbitrary power carried with it every parti- 
cle of its system. So strongly impressed, or rather 
00 weak, were the people on this point thiit they 

*:This is the language of the government, and is a prognostic 
of the spiiit with which we must expect the abolition laws will be 

A near relation of one of the Spanish commissioners for the 
abolition of the slave trade, thus expresses himself in a pamphlet 
jnst published here in defence of the conduct of the other com- 
missioner, the tn/«n<ian< of the island. 

^ The English cabinet^ the implacable enemy of the property 
of other countries^ had long brooded over a design to ruin this 
islandyH favourite object of its ambition ever since th6 malignant 
eloquence of Sheridan compared it to a young giant; That cabi- 
net, subverting the principles of commerce, as if displeased at 
the national tendency, took up the beautiful and philanthropic 
philosophy of the estimable Wilberforce ; and with its usual 
course of policy, forced from our government, then a mere 
shadow, the treaty, which, ruinous as it is to this island, is not 
yet so prejudicial as humiliating and odious in the manner of 
abolishing the slave trade/* 


absolutely shook off every sort of restraint, and at 
the moment I am now penning this letter (fiv.e 
months after the re-establishment of constitutional 
sway) there is scarcely an official character in the 
island who has courage to act. The treasury is 
dry — Ulcralfy speakings the laws sleep — self-will 
only reigns and nothing is seen but the most 
audacious violations of public order — nothing 
heard in the tribunals but. the quarrels of their 
members and the sneers of the crowd. The fact 
is, that liberli/ is a word not hitherto to be found 
in the Spanish dictionary, and the people^ do not 
comprehend it. Every one, therefore, interprets it 
as he pleases, some deriving it from the FrencJi^ 
some from the English^ and very many from the 
Tartarian. A little time, an energetic govern- 
ment, and a further reform in the administration 
of justice, will set all to rights ; for there are not 
wanting men of sense in this city, and the en- 
couragement of these and the repression of that 
absorbent spirit of freedom which takes all and 
gives none (too common at present) will effect a 
real and salutary reform. 

Besides this stagnancy of payment, there are 
other causes of the present embarrassment of the 
treasury of the island, viz. the cessation of several 
imposts which had been in the former aera declared 
unconstitutional by the cortes. The estanco or royal 

G 2 



monopoly of tobacco, the sale of officios, and the 
additional imposts on pulperia^s or proTisioii- 
riiops, are thUs circumstanced. The {daSmta or 
sale duty upon slaves has also tcormiiiated. Add 
to these, losses which the revenue frequently suf- 
fers by the failure of merchants ahd the tardiness 
of hacendadd^Sj renters of puUic estates and con- 
tractors. Several lieavy failures have occurred 
within the last year; and, it may be jMresnmedy 
^ (since the termination of the slave trade will 
riiut up the most profitable source of wealth to 
inany) that others will follow. But the resour- 
' ces are great and it is only nec^siary to stop the 
drain upon them, which the contest between 
^ Spain and her colonies is causing, to fill to reple- 
tion the local channels of irrigation which a pa- 
ternal and wise government ought to form for 

I must candidly avow that for sofne years past 
government has been by no means inattentive to 
the advancement of the island and the nurture of 
its population. For the latter purpose a royal » 
decree /was issued in October, 18 17, which dii^ected 
lands on various parts of the northern and southern 
coasts to be appropriated to sUch white persons 
as might be induced to settle on them. A fund 
has been rai^^ed by a provisional duty of dix dol- 
lars on every male slave imported from Africa. 

^aOU. the HAVANA. 101 

It commenced 10th of February 1818, and down 
to the SOth November 1819 had produced 106,130 
dollars. From this fund the government engages 
to paj to every catkJic white person who may 
emigrate hither, the sum of three reales (Is. S^d.) 
per day to each adult, and the half of that sum to 
those under fifteen years of age, during tl^e first 
two months after their arrival : one dollar per 
league, for travelling expences, firom the port of 
their disembarkation to the spot assigned theip fi>r 
residence^ to each adult, and four reales to eveiy 
minor as described. The parts of the bland se. 
lected for the establishment for such as majbe 
tempted to settle are, NuevUas on the N. coa^ ; 
Cuar^anamo oja the eastern (known to the Epglish 
by the name of WkUhenamy or Cumberkmd har* 
hour); a tract of six leagues square, contigoein 
to the bay ofjagua on the N. coast, and another 
of about four leagues and a hali^ called Santo 
Domingo, nearly four leagues from the north 
^ooast, ten leagues west of Villa Claroy and seventy 
from the Havana. 

Er'ery whitei person above the age of eighteen, 
if he arrives at Nuetdfas before April 1831, re- 
ceives in absolute propriety a cabalkria of land 
(32 acres), with a stipulation that he must com- 
mence its cultivation withiil six months and get the 
half of it, at lea^t, into a productive state withiti 

102 LETTER? 

two years. Nearly four hundred persons have at 
different times since the publication of this grant, 
availed themselves of its presumed benefit; but, 
jvhether from indolence, or insuperable difficulty; 
discouragement has arisen and the new settlement 
is gradually wearing away.* 
' At the bay o( Guantanamo and Sanlo Domingo 
those who present themselves between January 
1820 and December 1821, are offered the same 
privileges. After the ultimate periods given by 
the grants ofNueviias and the two last named set- 
tlements, the gift of Istnds will cease and those^ . 
then unappropriated, will be offered on terms of 
remuneration ; the first year after the termination 
of the period of gift, at the rate of one hundred^ 
dollars for every cabialleria of land ; the second 
year at one hundred and twenty-five dollars ; . with 
a progressive addition of twenty-five dollars 
every year till the expiration of ten years. The 
port of Guantanamo has also recently been habi- 
litated and an additional impost of two per cent 
(beyond the current duties) laid on export pro- 
duce, to pay for the erection of a battery to defend 
the port, and also for a custom-house and beacon. 

* According to a late report by a person opposed lo groTemmeDt 
and who uses it as' a ground of accusation| not more than thirty 
or forty persons were remaining in June, 1817. Theport will 
only tdmit ships of small burthen. 


There are already seventy-eight plantations iit 
the vicinity and a subaltern factory of tobacco was 
established there ; while the excellence of the 
bay and its admirable situation for commerce, caii 
scarcely fail to cause its rapid increase. 

The settlement at Santo Domingo does not 
possess these advantages. It is true that it is 
situated amidst the corn fields of Cuba, wheat be^^ 
ing cultivated there with success and the low 
lands capable of producing tobacco ; while its 
higher portions are stocked with cedar, mahogany 
9nd acana (a wood used for furniture). But the 
river Zagua^ which runs through it, forms, by its 
winding, a course of seven leagues to the sea, or 
the place of embarkation and to this last spot only 
vessels of small burden can approach. These 
difficulties will probably prevent its attaining any 
great height. 

On the shore of the bay ofjaguoj a retired officer 
of the regiment of Xi/ma/ia lieutenant colonel Z). 
Louis de Clouvet has obtained a grant of one hun- 
dred cdballerias of land and has settled there with 
forty fiimilies of Spanish colonists from Luisiana. 
Within two years two hundred and forty one per- 
sons have settled there. Thirty dollai*s per head 
are allowed by the government for every person 
commgtrom Luisianoy or the United States and six- 
ty-dollars for each one proceeding firom Europe. 

104 LBTTsas 

For the first si^ months they are to receiVeSI 
reiUes per day and may import every afticle'^of 
necessity free of duty for five years, that is till 
1824. The inhabitants of the respective setde- 
ments are precluded from sellings their grants tiH 
the expiration of five yefetrs after possession! 

Besides the attempt to encrease the amounfof 
white population, the government have endea- 
vored to improve its quality. The establishment 
of schools throughout the island has been actively 
promoted by the economical society of the JEtavanOf 
and for this and other patriotic purposes a royal 
order, in August 1818, granted a deduction of 
three per cent, on certain branches of the revenue, 
to be paid to the treasurer of the society. Thirty 
one thousand nine hundred and twenty dollars 
had been so paid in the first ten months ; between 
forty and fifty thousand dollars per annum. A 
nautical school has also been established within 
the last three years, and a duty of two reaksy on 
every hocay of melasses exported fi*oin this har- 
bour, granted for its support. The produce is 
between three and four thousand dollars per 
annum. A professorship of anatomy and of 
chemistry — A school for painting and lectureship 
or political (economy have also been established 
under the patronage of the government. But 
time and enlarged intercourse with the ideas of 


other nations who are past infancy, are wanting to 
form the recipiency of mind that will render these 
institutions thoroughly available. At present I 
can only say that a medical man gravely advises 
his patients to perspire four shirts^ or to remain in 
the bath during three paternosters and an ave 

• . . . » • 

maria : that the priests are as fktand diriying as 
they could have been in the 15th century.; th^t a 
Jew dare not for his life appear in the islaqd ; 
that tockpits have been (bund sufficiently vuluable 
to become objects of royal monopoly and that 
above 10,000 packs of cards«are annuallji import- 
ed !l 



• f 

Country round the Havana described* Roada; reg^la^ions^ re- 
specting them. Route inland. Regla. Gnanahacoa. Petty 
farmers. Guanaho. Rios Giguia and Jaruco. Rio Blanco. 
Rio Santa Cruz. Town of Gibacoa. Woods of Cuba ; re- 
gulations respecting them. Duty on foreign timber. Copper 
mines. Santa Maria del Rosaria. San Juan de Jaruco., Iji^. 
Guines. Cultivation of rice. Alligators. Country west of 
the Havana. Port of Mariel. Cession of the S. E. part of 
Cuba to France — By whom proposed. 

The country round the Havana, within a cir- 
cuit of ten miles, is comparatively barren; dis- 
forested, drained and neglected. The sun and 
the rains beating for above a century on the bald 
surface of the earth have, alternately, v^ashed and 
desiccated the soil. Here and there, in the 
shaded vallies, pieces of culture are seen, sown 
with maiz, the stalk and grain of which afford 
food for cattle. The roads are mere tracks or 
gullies worn free of soil by the rains, traversing 
the naked rock and partaking of all its rugged- 
ness. Convenience has traced them out in the 


first instance, and use has, in some degree, worked 
them into form. By public regulation the lines 
of communication between the towns must be 16 
yards in breadth ; that is, no house, fence, or en- 
closure must be raised near these tracks, ' (which 
we will call roads) so as to diminish that breadth, 
where it naturally exists; for in some parts the 
track is pent up between the rocks to a much less 
distance. The roads into the interior cross the 
mountains by some very perilous ascents, which 
will only admit horses and miiles. The number 
of small rivers, also, which cross the island (rising 
in the mountains and flowing on each side, north 
and south to the sea) frequently impede travellers 
in the rainy season, though bridges both of stone 
and wood are usually placed over them. For the 
construction and maintenance of these and the 
better regulation of the roads, the government^ in 
September 1818, instituted a tax of four dollars ' 
per head on every male slave imported from 
Africa. But the natural difficulties of the roads 
(common to all tropical countries) are trifling, 
compared to the obstructions and dangers arising 
from the black and white robbers which infest 
them. Woe to the solitary unarmed traveller, if 
such an unadvised inexperienced being should 
venture himself amidst the rugged sierra's of the 
interior! - 


In pursuing the route inland from the H^yana 
yoH meet with scarcely an; thing that attracts no* 
tice for the first two leagues. On crossing the 
harbour you land at a small town called Rcgla^ 
situated on the swampy shore^ a mile and a half 
from the city. It is the RotherkUbe or Blackwafl 
of the Havana, with all the miry loathsomeness 
of d Spanish suburb. Two miles from this, on iSi% 
fiirther side of a rocky eminence, is the. towfi of 
Oua^aboBoa, the summer resort of the IIavanero*s^ 
The appearance of this and, indeed, of all the in- 
terior towns of the island, is something like a 
rained English Tillage, in point of buildinga. 
The houses, exteriorly, have the precise look of 
bams and mud caUages^ while the masses of rug- 
ged rock^ interspersed amongst them, and upon 
which they are built, gives an dir of devastation 
le die whole town. Pavement or footpath, there 
are none, iior^ indeed, would it be an easy task to 
level the huge Uodu spread through the streets 
or to fin up the cavities between them. In this 
town there are several mineral springs and public 
baths, much frequented in the Summer season. 

The road to Matanzas (the most fi^uented 

from the Havana) runs through this town ; the 

distance is twenty leagues. For the first twelve 

miles there is 8ci»rcely any ascent ; the countiy is 

evel and open, very thinly spread with huts wd 


eokfViited tracts. Those who reside en tliem are 
white people, some of whom possess a slate or 
two, and breed pigs and poaltiy, keep c^ws to 
supply the neighbouring towns with milk, and 
raise mumato^Sy t/ucasy garlic, tomate*Sy mekm^ 
calabashes, oranges, mmneyesy sapote's &c for the 
markets of the Havana. On approaching these 
solitary residences, which only impress one with 
more dreary ideas, the yeHs of dogs and naked 
children, prove how singular a sight a stranger is. 
As to hospitality^ it is not to be expected or de- 
sired. There are, indeed, on this route to Matan- 
zas, two posada^s or hedge^irmsy but they are not 
calculated to afford either entertainment or secu- 
rity to one above the rank of a drover. The 
usual mode of travelling is to proceed with one 
imir of horses, or mules, to your tx)/ioif^, and 
another following" it, and to push on as fiistas 
practicable. It is wonderful to see die adroitness 
with which these animals move over ttie^rugged 
roads, and the unwearied patience with which they 
toil on beneath a burning sun. For the draught 
of produce, oxen only are employed; but the 
carbonero^ or charcoal burners and the suppliers 
of the markets, who frequently dwell in situations 
unsuitable for carriages, load iheir respective 
articles on the backs of mules, long cavalcades of 
which one frequently meets on the road. 


' The first ingenio^ or sugar plantation, you come 
to^ on the road to Matanzas by Guanaboy is nearly 
five leagues from the Havana, one from the town 
of Guanahoy and about the same distance from the 
sea. This last mentioned town is a poor misera^ 
ble place with a church and about twenty thatched 
huts, (or houses if you will) inhabited by petty 
farmers of maiz and market produce. The po- 
pulation consists of about one hundred and twenty 
whites, and nearly the same number of negroes. 
Haifa league from hence commences the sierra or 
mountainous ridge, which crosses the island in a 
south easterly direction ; forming k natural bar- 
rier, indented with some very difficult passes. 
To the N. E. and S. W, of this lie many ingenious 
and on its gentlest ascents are many potreroi's^ or 
breeding pens, where vast numbers of hogs, black 
cattle and horses are reared.- Some of these 

t - ... 

potrero^s contain above a thousand acres, though, 
in the remoter parts of the island, there are some 
properties devoted to this purpose, nearly two or 
three leagues square. The ingenio's^ in general, 
contain about 600 or 700 acres annually crept. 

Proceeding eastward about two leagues from 
Guanaboy you arrive at a river formed by the junc- 
tion of the Giguia and the Jaruco. At this point 
a small population has collected and wharfs are 
raised on the banks of the river (about a league 


•. ■ • • ■ • 

from the sea) to which small vessels can work up 
to load produce. There are manj fine estates in 
the neighbourhood ; the ingenious de Giguiabb; 
de Jauregui; Rioblanco de Penalver, and a caf- 
fetal belonging to the Conde de Loreto^ more par- 
ticularly so. 

The town of Rio Blanco is but a short distance 
from this ; for here every assemblage of huts, with 
a church in the midst of them, is a town. But, in 
traversing this space, a human habitation is like 
manna in the wilderness, and we naturally mag- 
nify what is rare and unexpected. The Partido 
de Santa Cruzy upon which we next enter, is well 
covered with potero^s and estancia^s* in which 
some tobacco is cultivated. 

The river Santa Cruz allows of small vessels 
entering a few miles up and loading, to facilitate 
which wharfs are erected on its banks. 

The small town of Gibacoa is about two leagues 
farther east. It has a church and a scanty popu- 
lation 3 lying in a valley, through which flows a 
rivulet that admits boats to carry the wood cut 
in the neighbouring hills, which nearly surround 
the town, to the place of embarkation on the 

* An e«#ancta is a cultiyated piece of land not devoted to the 
produce of- sagar or coff^. * 


Formerly the island carried qn a. tolerable trade 
ia wood^ of which it produces almoat every tropi- 
cal variety Of these the Cedro ; Coaba ; Pino ; 
.4>cma; Chkatron; Sabicu;Jobo; Quiebrahacha, 
or iron wood; Jocuma de corazon; Jtoble^ or Oak; 
Gtudlo and Frigolilh (much used for jpis^s and 
supportera in the construction of houses) ; elp^ge 
9pd la Lebisa (for hen coops and boarding); the 
Dagame (for axle trees) ; the Guira (for yokes 
and handles of ploughs) ; the Cuagani (for tl^ 
frames of carts and waggons); are abundant. 
About tibe year 1622 the government began to 
lay restrictions on t^e cutting of timb^, from an 
appi^hension that a scarcity might ensue pf pro- 
per materials for ship building. But it was not 
till J77&that, in consequence of a dispute between 
tbe then governor and tbe ge^er^l of Mar|ne^Ja 
Junta was appointed to superintend the woods, 
by wbom venous ord^nai^cea were published for 
their regulation. 

In '1789 a decree was issu.ed. by, which the royal 
right tof felling was epctended to all the woods pf 
CubA» of Qucbtreesmi were suitable to^naval pur- 
poses, and penalties were laid on the coi^tfayen- 
tion of the decree. The Consulado (or chamber 
of commerce) having represented the injury 
sustained by this infringement oa the rigjitfi of 
property, measures were taken to softeiittefleve- 


litjr of the royal ordinance, but it was' not till 
1815 that effectual relief was given bj the total 
abrogation of all foregoing restrictions and the 
renunciation of interference with private rights. 
By a decree dated 83rd June 1819, timber cut 
and used in the island is freed from all duties. 
Foreign timber pays 2I| per cent 

The eastern part of the island is most abound- 
ing in wood. It contains also some mines of cop- 
per which are not worked. Lima formerly sup- 
plied the island with copper of very inferior 
quality, for the use of the sugar engines, but 
England and the United States have superseded 
all other competitors and substituted iron for that 

Fruit trees are found abundant in all parts of the 
island. Near the principal towns, the petty far- 
mers on the estandas usually gain from six to 
eight dollars per annum, from each coco and 
zapoie tree. The mamey Colorado and the naran^ 
gero de china (china orange) produce about three 
or four dollars per annum. The pUnntain also 
liberally bestows its pleasant and nutritious pro- 
duce, affording support and income to the poorest 
and most indolent. It bears but once, and the 
only care requisite is, when you pluck its ponder-- 
ous bunches, to cut the stem which bore them and 


114 liETTERS 

in less than a month, a young progeny of suckers 
spring up in its place. 

These latter plants (which, however, rise from 
five to eight feet high) are usually found round 
the huts as you proceed inland, and by their broad 
bright green leaves give a pleasing fireshness to 
the scenery. 

From Gibacoa to Matanzas the road lies over 
the mountains amidst woods and potrero's. There 
are, however, two other routes. One lies to the 
right of Guanabacooy through the town of Santa 
Maria delRosario to Jaruco. In this route one 
passes several lagoons in which a fish called 
viegaca is caught, small but of very fine flavour. 
In the various rivers, or rivulets, on the road, 
there are found eels, shrimps and fish called 
guavina'^s y and on their banks tobacco is grown. 
The other route is also through Jaruco^ breaking 
ofi*from the Gibacoa road about half a league be- 
fore you arrive at the first ingenio. This route 
leads through a crowded assemblage of ingenious 
and cafietales. In the tract of country to the 
right are many ruined plantations (ingenios demo-' 
lidos) or estates worked out of their fertility. A 
few leagues from Jaruco the country becomes 
mountainous; in one part nearly two miles in 
.ascent, and the road so difficult that no carriages 


can pass it. They are obliged to make a consi- 
derable circuit to arrive at Jaruco. This pass is 
very appropriately named La loma de Cansaoacas 
(the hill for tiring^ cattle) ; the Sierra^ on which 
it is situated, is called La Escaleraj or the ladder* 

San Juan de Jaruco is ten leagues from the 
Havana. It is a tolerably sized place having a 
Cabildoy but is not in any other respect worth no- 
tice. In the neighbourhood rice is cultivated to 
a small extent. The valley otLos Guinesy S. W; 
of the Havana about twelve leagues, is the most 
&vorable situation for the culture of rice. The 
country here is almost a perfect level through 
which the Rio de los Guines runs. Trenches are 
cut from the river for the purpose of irrigation. In 
times of drought they even water the fields with 
buckets. Several of the proprietors of ingenios 
have availed themselves of their local advantages 
and have erected water-mills on their estates. 
Towards the south coast, to which the Rio de los 
Guines runs, the land is so low that it is nothing 
but a swamp for some leagues and abounds with 
alligators. Most of the rivers on the S. coast 
have numbers of these formidable inhabitants. 
The people here, nay even the women, are said 
to be very dexterous in killing them. 

To the west of the Havsma lie many of the 
finest estates in the island, and the bays oiHonda^ 

H 9 


SaMa Isabel and la Chiiray with the port of Muriel^ 
are not inferior to any iq the whole range of 
coast. Muriel is seven leagUes to the leeward or 
west of the Havana. It has onlj been opened as 
a free port, a few months, but bi^ fair to become 
a very flourishing place. Sir George Pocock, 
who commanded our fleet at the capture of the 
Havana in 1762^ observes of this port, that 
^^ however trivial, with the possession of the 
^^ ffavana, it may appear, yet I cannot help men- 
^^ tioning the discovery and possessing the har- 
" hour of Marielj which we made ourselves 
^masters of, though the enemy had endeavoured 
^^ to ruin it by sinking' ships in the entrance ; and 
^ we had lately sent near one hundred sail of 
^^ transports, with some men of war there, for 
<^ security against the season.'* It was not easy 
to ruin a harbour which has twenty-two feet of 
water close in shore. Do not imagine 1 lend 
myself to the newspaper schemes of the English 
Napoleonists, when I observe, tha£ if England 
had a port situated like Mariely with the command 
of the gulfs of Mexico and Florida, the maritime 
security of her colonies would be perfected. 
Apropos, of Napoleonistic schemes ; it is not, I 
believe, generally known, that after the settle- 
ment of the French planters in Cuba^ on their ex- 
puUion from Santo Domingo, a plan was formed 


bj them and submitted to the government of 
France, for the cession of that part of the island 
Ijing to windward of a line to, be drawn from 
Baracoa, (in «1^ 4' lat. N. and 76' 10' long. W.) 
to Trinidad, which is in 2r 48' 9!0r. lat. N. and 
80« Of 52' long. W. It is believed that the 
French government took steps to effectuate this 
measure, which were onlj frustrated by the course 
affairs took in Europe.* 

* Joseph BnonapartCy the intmsiTe khig of S^io, (better 
known to that natiou by the title of Pep^ BateUa) sent one Dois 
3fa»ttel Rodriguez Aleman y Pena on a secret mission to this 
island in 1809. This indiyidoal arrived^ from Norfolk, IJ. S at 
the Havana, on the ISth July in that year. Suspicion attachinf^ 
to him, his effects were examined, oud in the false bottom of a 
trunk, thirty-three letters were discovered. These were signed 
by Joseph Buonaparte, and directed to the principal persons 
here, at Mexico, Goatemala, Santa Fe, Merida de Yucatan, 
Caraccas and Puerto Rico. Don Manuel was adjudged guilty of 
treason, and executed at the Havana on the 30th of July. 



CUmate of Caba. Sickly season. Rains. Nortit^ or north 
winds. Winter season. Table of the .weather and thermo- 
metrical range during twelve months. Produce of the 
climate. Black cattle. Horses. Venomous creatures : 
Snakes 3 aranas peludas 3 scorpions ; mosquitoes. Birds. 
CocuyOf or fire-fly, Cuba blood-hound. Review of the 
character of the people and resources of the island. The 
abolition of the slave trade shown to be favourable to the real 

' and permanent interests of the island. Conclusion. 

I HAVE not yet, I believe^ given you an ac- 
eount of the climate of Cuba. Lying on the 
northern verge of the tropic of Capricorn, it is, 
in a great measure, exempted from those tre- 
mendous hurricanes which nearly shake to their 
foundations the more southern islands. Earth- 
quakes also are very rare. As to heat, it lies 
zmthin the tropics^ and therefore, its extent may 
be understood ; but, still, in these larger islands, 
the height of their mountains and the quantity of 
uncultivated surfkce they present, varies consider- 
ably the nature of their climate. For this reason 


the same island has different degrees of tempera- 
ture, and affords situations more or less adapted 
to the European constitution, 

I do not imagine there is a town in the West 
Indies so replete with the seeds of mortality as 
the Havana. Its low circumvallated situation ; 
its fortifications ; the amount and nature of its 
population ; their habits of living, and the range 
of shore round its harbour, low and swampy, 
unite in producing pestiferous effects. A. league 
inland to the eastward, there is a considerable rise 
of ground, and, in that situation, the ravage of 
fever is inconsiderable. Still further inland, on 
the higher grounds, sufficiently clear to dissipate 
damps, but not to deprive the soil of its fresh and 
vital principle ; the inhabitants know no other 
diseases than those which are the usual conse- 
quences of careless exposure, such as diarrhoeas, 
colds, &c. It is observed of these persons, that 
they are equally liable to the yellow fever, with 
the recently arrived European, on going to reside 
jn the Havana. Frequent instances, also, occur 
of persons arriving at this city from the Costa 
firme suflSering from the malady. 

The months of August and September are the 
most unhealthy of the year ; the dry heated air is 
greatly disoxygenized (if I may use the term) and 
receives from the effluvia of this city inany Blading- 


nant additions. The season of 1 8 1 9 was unusually 
hot and dry, and consequently, very sickly. The 
average of the deaths in the Hcfoanoj during 
August and September of that year, vfVLS twentt/' 
Jive per day. 

About the middle of October the autumnal 
rains are expected, which lower the temperature 
considerably, and give rise to catarrhal and rheu- 
matic disorders. The heaviest English rain is a 
summer shower to the fall in the tropics. The 
descent of water is so heavy, that, in a few 
minutes^ you will see the ravines and gullies, 
which yawn on all sides, flowing with the force of 
a cataract. On the first fall of rain after a 
draught, the suffocating streams of caloric that 
surround you give an idea of the heat with which 
the soil is impregnated. In the dry season, the 
bare rocky portion of it, which surrounds the 
ffaoanay encreases the heat greatly^ by reflecting 
the rays of the sun ; but is highly advantageous 
in the wet seasons by throwing off the water, 
which, however, sinking into the vallies, may,' 
possibly, by the formation of marshes, more than 
balance the first named benefit. But a judicious 
observer might select many situations within a 
league or two of the Havana^ entirely free from 
these inconveniences, where on a dry sheltered 
eminence, the sultry south winds cannot waft in- 


jurious miasmata^ and. the blasts from the north 
are sufficiently broken and tempered to come 
^^ with healing on their wings.^' 

These latter winds begin to blow abqut No« 
vember or December, rough, it is true, very fre- 
quently, but highly restorative to the decomposed 
elements of the atmosphere and the languid frame^ 
exhausted by the long continuance of heat. To 
my English feelings they are peculiarly agreedble^ 
possibly because I am not yet reduced to tibat 
porous relaxation which constitutes perfect seiuoit'* 
mg; but the Cuband's shrink at the sturdy blast, 
covering themselves round with their heavy 
capotes and binding handkerchiefs about their 
heads when they venture out. The labouring 
class, I can easily conceive, may be injured by 
the perspiratory check of the nartes^ but the 
lounger, like myself, must surely be benefitted by 
the refrigerant air bath they afford. 

December, January, February, and March, are 
the most agreeable months of the year. It is the 
period of the sugar harvest, the latter month of 
the maiz crop. In December the orange trees 
are covered with their beautiful fruit, ripe and 
delicious. The tamarind tree, also, in March, is 
loaded with its pendulous produce, so grateful 
and cooling. Vegetation is at its height. The 
most brilliant verdure covers the country, and the 


sky is usually dear and sparkling. This is the 
only one of the tropical seasons that should be 
painted dancing or with the air of divinity. The 
others are the daughters of Baaly delighting in 
the scorching blaze and human sacrifice. 

The following summary of the state of the 
thermometer and weather for the last twelve 
months will be more satisfactory than my descrip- 
tive relation. It was made at Guanabacoay four 
or five miles from the Hayana, and as the ther- 
mometer {fahrenheit) hung io a room with a per- 
petual current passing through it (for I told you 
the windows are notglazed^but only open-barred) 
it gives a fair account of the temperature in the 
shaded air. 

OCTOBER 1819. 

During the first fortnight the thermometer 
averaged at six o'clock a. m. 77°. At twelve 
o'clock 82°. At nine p. m. 79°. During the last 
fortnight at six a. m. 74°. At twelve 79°. At 
nine p.m. 75°. — Greatest height observed 1st Oct. 
was 84° at mid-day. Lowest grade 73* at six 
A. M, Oct. S3d. Range 11°. 

The commencement of the month sultry, with 
thunder. Rain every day for the last fortnight, 
nearly without intermission. 


The first part of the month, the thermometer 


at six A. M. from 69° to 71^ At mid-day 75^ At 
nine p.m. 7S*. The latter part of the month at 
six A. M. 69°. At mid-day 74°. At nine p. m. 71°. 
—Greatest height 78°; lowest, 67°. Range 11°. 
Generally feir weather with rough blasts from 
Nt^E. towards the end. 


During this month the thermometer has bieen 
usually 68° at six a. m. ; 73° at mid-day ; 70° at 
nine p. m. During the two or three days on 
which it rained the glass fell, at night, to 61°. — 
Greatest heighth 78°. Range 17°. 

The temperature, and weather serene and 

JANUARY 1820. 

Little variation in the thermometer from the 
course of last month.-— Greatest height 78°; lowest 
grade 70°. Range 7°. 

Cool, dry and serene during the whole month. 


The first part of this month the glass 7S° in 
the morning; 76^ at mid<-day; 70° at night. 
About the middle of the month 80° at mid-day. 
The latter part of it was cooled by a fresh wind 
from N. E. — Greatest height 83° ; lowest grade 
69°. Range 13°. 

Dry throughout with a sensibly increasing heat 
till the last week. 



Thermometer nearly equal throughout. . In 
the morning 76*; roid-day 8P; night 7S\ — 
Highest grade 82" ; lowest 7S^ Range 9°. 

Dry throughout with fresh winds from n. e. 


In the morning 74° ; mid-day 79° ; night 75% 
with trifling variation during the whole of the 
month. Only three days of rain, but this and 
the encreasing gales from the n. r. freshened the 
air greatly. — Greatest height 81°; lowest grad^ 
71°. Range 11°. 


Nearly the same temperature as last month for 
the fintt fortnight, the glass being seldom higher 
than 80°. The latter part of the month it sud- 
denly became sultry ; the glass 79° in the morn- 
ing ; 84° at mid-day ; 81° at night. — Highest 
grade 86° ; lowest 75". Range 1 V. 

A few showers at the beginning. South winds 
and thunder towards the end. 


In the morning the glass usually 78° ; at mid- 
day 81°; at night 79°.— Highest grade 85° ; lowest 
78°. Range 7°. 

Rain nearly every day. 


Very equal throughout ; 79^ in the morning ; 


85' at mid-day ; 80" at night— Highest grade 87' ; 
lowest 79'. Range 8'. 

- A few showers occasionally and heavy thunder. 
During the two last months the days have beeo 
refreshed by the sea breeze, which sets in about 
ten in the morning, and lasts till five in the after- 
noon. The evenings rather sultry and mosquitoes 


Little difference from the course of last month. 
Towards the middle, the glass at 88' at two o'clock 
p. M. On the SOth a heavy storm of wind and 
rain came on from the s. w. The glass fell to 78', 
but rose again on the succeeding day to 84'» 
Range 10', 


This month set in temperate with some rain. 
1*hermometer — morning 78' ; noon 84 ; night 
80°. — It advanced rather atHer the first week, but 
on the whole the average height was 85' ; lowest 
grade 77'. Range 8'. 

The annual range of the thermometer observed 
in a course of years has been nearly /^y degrees, 
for in some winters the temperat ure has been near 
the freezing point and in some summers about 92 

From this account of the climate you may infer 


the nature of the productions of the island. Sugar, 
coffee, and tobacco have become its staples to the 
exclusion of almost every other species of cultiva- 
tion. Cotton is absolutely neglected. A small 
portion of indigo only is produced. Pimento and 
ginger are not thought of. Cochineal has not 
been attempted, though there is sufficiency of the 
nopaly or, as it is here called, tuna. 

The black cattle are, a very fine breed and are 
used in great numbers to draw produce. Sheep 
are rare, a few only being kept, rather as curiosi- 
ties than as stock. The hogs are most abundant, 
and form the favorite meat of the lower orders^ 
most of whom keep them. Horses and mules are 
bred in the island but a great many of the latter 
are imported from the Costa firmey and of the 
former, a large bony breed called frisones (or 
frieslanders) are brought from North America. 
These are not found to thrive, the first hot sum<> 
mer carrying them off. The price of horses 
ranges from sixty to five hundred dollars ; the 
usual price of a decent serviceable horse being 
two hundred dollars. 

Venomous creatures this island is,, happily, al- 
most entirely free from. The snakes found here 
are very similar to those that infest the woods in 
England, and are very shy of society. Their bite 
is not mortal. The worst of the venomous spe- 


cies is the arana peluda^ or hairy spider, a hideous 
reptile^ as large as a man's hand, covered with 
brown hair. The bite is considered highly dan- 
gerous. The scorpion is so common that its fre- 
quency almost takes off the feeling of the dread 
with which it would otherwise be regarded. It 
is, when fully grown, as large as the arana pelucbj 
with a long jointed tail which it carries curved 
over its back, but is extended at pleasure. The 
sting is at the end. The effect (for I speak from 
experience) is sharp and painful and creates a 
local paralysis, but wears off through time and 
the application of spirits. The mosquUo must^ 
though insignificant, be ranked in this order, for its 
sting, to the recently imported, is frequently very 
troublesome and productive of much pain and 

Amongst the wants of the country and which 
an English ear, attuned to the melody of its native 
groves, almost directly discovers, is the total ab- 
sence of birds of song. 

But if the evening hour is deprived of the notes 
of the nightingale, it is enriched by the brightness 
of the cocuyo^ orjire-jly. This singular insect bears 
in the upper parts of its head a phosphoric light, 
like that of the glow-worm and numbers are seen 
circling in the air like meteors. It is perfectly 
harmless and too often suffers from peurile tyranny 
on this account. 

128 LETTEB8 

Amongst the animal rarities of the island let me 
flot forget to notice the Cuba blood-hound^ that 
•celebrated friend of the whites and enemy of the 
blacks. In chief and general air he is not much 
nnlike the English mastiff, but possesses all the 
ferocity of the bull-dog. Every plantation has 
several of these creatures for the pursuit ofcimar" 
rones^ or fugitive negroes, and the preservation of 
the whites, as the negroes stand in more dread of 
one of these ferocious brutes than of an armed over- 
seer. I have no reason, however, to believe that 
they are employed otherwise than as guides in the 
pursuit of fugitives and house-guards for their 
masters; but it is undoubted that the spirit of 
persecution against the unhappy negroes is instill- 
ed and fostered l&y every kind of encouragement 
and allurement, for I deny that nature (as some 
allege) has violated her own feelings and prin- 
ciples by making the blood-hound a natural enemy 
to the man of colour. In England you have often 
noticed the sagacity with which a pampered 
house-dog scents out and attacks a beggar, who 
has fewer distinctive marks than the slave. The 
principle of education is the same, and insolent 
tyranny of persecution equally the effect of human, 

I cannot enter into a minuter detail of the 
animal and vegetable peculiarities of the island, 
nor do I think it necessary; for the productions 


of both classes are nearly the same as in the other 
islands which are well known to the English. I' 
have glanced at all that came within my range of 
vision and detailed to you what my eye perceived^' 
without attempting a philosophical research. 
My object has been to acquire a knowledge of the 
character of the people and of the resources of 
the island, more for the purposes of the business of 
life than of closet speculation. Probably (asyoii 
and I usuaUy see things in the same light) yoQ 
vrill agree with me on the results of mj obser- 

The people of Cuba appear to me to have a 
more local and segregate character and to be less 
firmly tied to the mother country, than the inha- 
bitants of any other West India island. Th^ 
opinion is pretty openly expressed by many that^ 
though the root is in Europe, the flower blows 
here and contains seeds sufficient for raising aii 
entire plant in the same soil. When these politi- 
cal botanists are acquainted with geography and 
statistics they will undoubtedly be wiser. 
- ' The native of every country thinks his own the 
first region in the universe, but the Spaniard goes 
farther, he considers himself the centre of hiscir^ 
cle. As every house is a palace where a king 
resides, so every spot, on which a SpMard halt 
Isettled^ becomes dignified, 6>r his pureOoifiie 


blood is kept flowing from this*new fountain and 
the halo of his glory rests on the soil. Thus the 
American Spaniards brought from the Peninsula 
what constituted its fame — themselves ; centuries 
of residence have identified them with the coun- 
tries they conquered, and the name of a colonist 
they consider as a stigma. From these causes 
they regard their domiciles in this quarter of the 
globe by no means as of secondary consequence. 
The constitution recognizes all the Spanish domi- 
nions as equal, though the delegation of deputies 
to the present cortes has not been niade on this 

Perhaps notions of this nature may influence 
people here, and the pride of individuals is not 
checked by public considerations. They wish to 
dignify the country they live in — it is their own 
and, consequently, in every way worthy. It is po- 
pular logic and, added to considerations far more 
^eighty and argumentative, has separated more 
than half the S. American provinces from the 
Spanish dominion. 

In no communis can questions of public in- 
terest more warmly afiect than here. !No sooner 
is a point of this nature thrown upon the opinions 
of the people, than with chemical efiect, you see 
them divided and discomposed into turbid porti- 
ons. A strong effervescence takes place for the 


moment^ but the sperme and noise soon subside 
and a ferocious crowd, that a little before were 
ready to tear a fellow creature to pieces, sink into 
apathy, as if to regain strength for a new burst- 
Notwithstanding all this collective fury ^ public 
spirit is wanting, that soul of social enterprize 
without which a nation is onlj a mass of strangers 
and sojourners. Whatever is done here bj the 
people as a public^ will proceed from the concur- 
rence of private interests which may embody 
individuals. Each acting from attention to his 
own views, it may sometimes happen that many 
will accord in the promotion of a measure, and 
they will support it the more warmly because 
allied to their private interests. 

The freedom of commerce enjoyed by the 
island for the last eleven years has very much 
tended to nationalize the Cuban6*s. They know 
it is a grant forced from the mother country and 
they have full evidence how little it is in her 
power to aid their commercial wants. Of nearly 
twelve hundred vessels which annually enter the 
port of Havana, eight hundred are foreign. 
They are thus made acquainted with their own 

The number of white established inhabitants, 
and the luxury of a large city, are circumstances 
more &vourable than the other' islands possess. 

I 2 


^he exporting vessels are drawn hither with im-. 
port cargoes, and the benefit of the latter tends 
to lower the freight of export. As Mexico still 
labours under restriction fiom foreign copimerce, 
there is a considerable re-export from the Havana 
to Vera Cruzy Sisal and Campeachy. Goods to. 
the value of nearly three millions are thus re- 
^hipped in Spanish bottoms, and produce to the 
same amount exported by the foreign vessels that 
brought them. It is not to be expected that 
Mexico will long remain in a state of exclusion, 
and therefore the island will suffer this diminution 
of her trade. It is not to be doubted also, but 
that the abolition of the slave trade will have the 
effiect of checking the augmentation ofproduce». 
There is a certain point beyond which the amount 
of the present staples could not have risen ; 
because the requisition of them by European or 
American consumers would not always be on the 
increase, nor would the ratio of imports be likely 
to keep the alluring proportion they now bear to 
the exports. But this point has not yet been 
approximated, for, though the mass of native 
whites are poor and indolent, yet enterprizing< 
speculators would have, probably, settled here as 
planters, as very many have done during the last 
twenty years. Notwithstanding, I am inclined 
to think the island will be considerably benefitted 


by the dbolition. The island of Cuba is entitled 
ip rank higher than a mere sugar colony;.. The 
variety and richness of its soil render it'fvUjr 
capable of other field products within the ability 
of zz^AiYe cultivators. The vast tracts of country 
yet untouched or unoccupied, if divided into 
small farms or estancia's amongst white settlers, 
either native or foreign, would encrease the 
wealth and population of the island in a higher 
degree than if its surface was covered with siigsu;: 
and coffee. 

This course will, probably, be followed since 
the impossibility (it is hoped) of acquiring new 
negroes from Africa, will oblige capitalists to in« 
vest their money in other ways than in planta- 
tions which can only be cultivated by them. By 
purchasing large tracts of lands, and sub-letting 
them to the industrious at equitable rents ; en- 
couraging the production of articles of subsistence, 
of lumber, &c. for the supply ofthe other islands ; 
establishing manufactories of various kinds, suita-:. 
ble to the country, &nd the wants of the SoutH 
American markets, to which they will have thei 
most favoured access ; or, by rendering the 
island a depot for Europe and the north ;— by 
these means the island would be most essentially 
benefitted, and become a worthy neighbour ofthe 
United Stated, which l^ave risen in the course ojT 


one hundred and fifty years from colonies and 
plantations, to be one of the first nations of the 

Previous to opening the ports of the island to a 
free trade, this seems to have been the course 
speculation was taking. In the years 1806, 1807, 
and 1808, sales of land to the value of 11,548 
dollars were made. In 1809 (the year in which 
the ports were opened) not a single caballeria was 
sold by the government. In the subsequent 
year (1810) only 385 dollars were recieved for 
the purchase of land. As the abolition of the 
sla:ve trade is in fact shutting up the ports of the 
island against a great traflic, and forms a con- 
sequential restriction upon the exports of the 
articles raised by the labour of negroes, the prin- 
ciple of both is the same^ and from the examples 
adduced, we may anticipate the like result. 

Th^re can be no doubt that the happiness of the 
future generations o( Cubano^s will be advanced 
by the present abolition. Sanlo Domingo lies 
full in the sight of this island. Its terrific past 
history and frowning future, one would think 
must sufficiently impress its neighbour with the 
policy and necessity of solely augmenting its white 
population. I can vouch for their ability to 
labour in this climate. The great obstacle to 
white exertion is the slavery of the blacks^ which 


gives a debased character to manual exertion. As 
the examples of this are reduced, the number of 
white labourers will be augmented. 

A wise and vigorous government would, I am 
convinced, in the space of half a century, render 
the island of Cuba stable and orderly in its social 
arrangement, active and numerous as to popula- 
tion, and as replete with resources^ both for 
public and private purposes, as any territory of 
its extent. That it may attain this heigth of 
character, and the graves of its aboriginial posses- 
sors be covered with atoning monuments, raised 
by the superior worth of the descendants of their 
destroyers, is what no one can desire more 
earnestly than I do. 


Printed by W. Molineax, Bream't Bnildingt* 
Chancery Lane. 

■• T